In China a woman can earn up to 200,000 yuan through being a surrogate. However the practice is illegal on the Chinese mainland. (Photo from Global Times)
After three months of pregnancy, Zong, a native of Sichuan Province, was told by doctors that they could not hear a heartbeat. A miscarriage is a painful experience for any expectant mother; however, for Zong it meant a loss of income.
Zong lost around 180,000 yuan ($28,175) because of the miscarriage. Zong is a surrogate employed by an agency in Shanghai. Because she was facing financial difficulties, Zong accepted the well-paid job that was supposed to take less than one year to finish.
After contacting several surrogacy agencies the Global Times discovered that a surrogate is paid 10 percent of the total amount they are promised upon confirmation of a fetal heartbeat. The surrogate will then be paid in 20 percent increments at five months, seven months and eight months with the final 30 percent paid after the birth.
Before the fetal heartbeat is confirmed, a surrogate mother can only receive a monthly payment of 2,500 yuan. Knowing that her rights are not legally protected as surrogacy is illegal on the Chinese mainland, Zong chose to expose the practices of this underground industry.
The issue was made clear in 2001 when the Ministry of Health issued the Regulation on Human Assisted Reproduction Technology, which prohibits medical institutions and medical workers from conducting any kind of surrogacy treatments. But this market has continued to thrive in the past few years given the ever increasing demand.
According to figures released by the Shanghai Health Bureau earlier this year, around 10 percent of local couples suffer infertility problems, and 1 percent of this group need to rely on surrogacy technology. Furthermore, figures are expected to rise.
While surrogacy agencies were underground and secretive in the past, they are more open today and some even claim to be official surrogacy agencies. Only five years ago there were just a handful of small-scale agencies in the city; however these days competition has grown much fiercer with hundreds of agencies.