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Chinese actress 'abandons' surrogate babies in US
Published on: 2021-01-21
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A high-profile Chinese actress who was accused by her ex-boyfriend of abandoning her two surrogate children in the US drew widespread condemnation in China on Tuesday. The case also brought the legitimacy and morality of surrogacy - which is illegal in China - into the spotlight once again, with the majority of Chinese netizens voicing strong disapproval, in spite that surrogacy has been in increasing demand in the Chinese society.

The surrogacy scandal involved actress Zheng Shuang who recently became an ambassador for Italian luxury brand Prada; Prada terminated her deal on Tuesday due to the scandal. Her ex-boyfriend Zhang Heng said in a Weibo post on Monday that he and his two babies with Zheng are currently stuck in the US.

An audio clip provided by someone claiming to be a friend of Zhang's was released by NetEase on Monday night, in which Zheng screamed obscenities while complaining that in the case of the couple's second child - then seven month in pregnancy - it was too late for the US surrogate mother to terminate the pregnancy. Zhang's father in the audio clip apparently suggested giving up the babies. Zhang's friend told the media that the children could not return to China as Zheng refused to cooperate with related legal processes.

Zheng has not yet personally verified whether the babies are hers, but birth certificates posted online showed the babies are a boy born in December 2019 in Colorado and a girl born in January 2020 in Nevada, both with Zheng and Zhang named as the parents.

The related topics on the scandal and surrogacy occupied the top four topics on Sina Weibo on Tuesday, with more than 4.2 billion views in total. Several state organs also criticized in the media Zheng's irresponsible behavior, as part of and also strengthening the online chorus against surrogacy.

"China prohibits all kinds of surrogacy. Surrogacy and abandoning children are against social morals and public order… human lives are not toys," the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China said in a post on its official account on Tuesday.

On Tuesday night, the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China Central Committee commented on Zheng's surrogacy scandal, pointing out she takes advantage of the legal loopholes and is definitely not innocent.

According to Article 3 of the Chinese Administrative Measures on Human Assisted Reproductive Technology, promulgated and implemented in 2001, medical institutions and personnel shall not implement any form of surrogacy.

Zhang Jing, a Beijing-based matrimonial lawyer, told the Global Times that the scandal over Zheng Shuang shed light on a worrying legal gray area. While surrogacy is illegal in China, people who pay for such services in other countries where surrogacy is allowed won't be held accountable by the law in China, Zhang Jing said.

But according to the Law on the Application of Laws in Foreign-related Civil Relations, Zheng Shuang's abandonment of her children is subject to the jurisdiction of Chinese laws, said the lawyer.

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