China launches probe into surrogacy, fake paternity tests in Wuhan

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese authorities have suspended a hospital and a judicial institute in the city of Wuhan from conducting some services after they were accused of surrogacy and issuing fake paternity results.

The suspension comes amid several investigations related to the issuance of fake birth certificates as China, where surrogacy is illegal, tries to boost its birth rate.

Wuhan Puren Hospital has been suspended from releasing birth certificates and Wuhan Ruiboxiang Judicial Appraisal Institute has been suspended from providing judicial appraisal services, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said on Tuesday.

A task force has been set up to investigate the hospital and institute.

“We will seriously pursue accountability in accordance with laws and regulations based on the investigation,” the commission said.

The hospital and institute were accused of “illegal activities” by an online influencer called Shangguanzhengyi, the official China Daily newspaper reported.

He alleged the institute could provide fake paternity test results and parents could provide fake results to reissue the birth certificate, allowing non-biological children to be given a bogus identification.

The service cost around 180,000 yuan ($25,187) in cash, the newspaper said.

The case comes a few weeks after the director of a hospital in China’s central Hubei province was investigated for brazenly selling birth certificates, with the hospital’s obstetrics and gynaecology department forced to suspend operations.

Birth certificates are required in China for obtaining household registration and are necessary for vaccinations, medical insurance enrolment and application for a social security card.

Birth rates have fallen in China to their lowest since records began in 1949, at just 9.56 million in 2022.

($1 = 7.1463 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Farah Master and the Beijing newsroom; Editing by Stephen Coates)