Sperm donors in Beijing should “love socialism and the motherland, and uphold the leadership of the [ruling] Chinese Communist Party,” according to a recent hospital advertisement.
The requirements are “top of the list” for attributes required for successful donation of sperm, according to the No. 3 Peking University Hospital, which wants to “improve … [and] optimize” those applying to become donors.
Applicants should be under 20 years of age, resident in Beijing, and “be of the highest ideological quality,” the ad said.
“They should passionately love the motherland and socialism, uphold the leadership of the Communist Party, and be sincerely loyal to the work of the party,” it said.
“They should have no political issues [in their background] … should adhere to the standards of meritocracy in terms of both talent and morality, and undergo a full suite of physical examinations and related inspection methods,” it said.
Those who feel they are able to meet these requirements should sign up at the Peking University No. 3 Hospital’s sperm bank before May 23, the ad said.
“Subsidy” payments of up to 5,500 yuan (U.S. $870) will be available to those who complete the donation process, it said.
Yu Xuedong, medical affairs manager at the sperm bank, declined to elaborate on the language used in the advertisement when contacted by RFA on Friday, saying only that the sperm bank would test applicants using its own procedures.
“There will be an application process to go through once you get here, so even though the ad says this, there is still an application to go through to see if [the requirements in the ad] are indeed the case,” he said.
Asked if the sperm bank plans to test applicants’ political suitability, Yu replied: “That I don’t know … this isn’t the most important thing; what’s important is that we have to comply with national standards.”
“If there is anything else, may I suggest you contact our propaganda department?” he said.
Amid an uproarious reaction on China’s tightly controlled internet on Friday, the hospital quietly removed the political requirements from its recruitment ad.
While the language of the ad appears carefully designed to sound like a staff recruitment process rather than a eugenics project, commentators were quick to ridicule to the notion that ideology can be handed down via DNA to the next generation, with memes like “red sperm” and “patriotism starts with your sperm” making the rounds on social media.
A nurse surnamed Shao at a hospital in the central province of Hunan said she found the advertisement funny.
“I saw the ad. I thought it was hilarious,” Shao said. “I mean, people’s DNA can be inherited, but how can their ideology, education or patriotism be inherited? All you need is for your subjects to be in good health, and then they can come.”
“Why do they have to emphasize their patriotism and political thought processes so much? It’s very strange,” she said. “Why does politics have to get dragged into it?”
Hong Kong cartoonist A Ping told RFA: “This is even crazier than the Mao generation. Talk about making sure they’re red from the start.”
He said he had a problem with the implied eugenics involved in the project, too. “It’s actually a very outdated racist concept, and runs counter to the progress of humanity,” he said.
Beijing-based artist Ji Feng agreed.
“They are turning common knowledge on its head and talking about strengthening the party’s leadership in the womb, so as to raise a new, red generation as the successors to socialism,” he said.
According to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, donors are required to donate their sperm around 10 times in the space of six months to ensure an adequate supply for artificial insemination.
Beijing expanded the one-child limit per household to two children at the start of 2016, in a bid to bring an extra 30 million people into the work force by 2050 and create a fall of two percentage points in the proportion of elderly people in the general population.
Since then, demand for donated sperm has skyrocketed, but a lack of donors has led many couples to seek IVF treatment overseas, in countries like Australia and Malaysia.
Previous health ministry guidelines have been strictly medical, with donors expected to be between the ages of 22 and 44, and in good physical and mental health, with sperm that meets the parameters for fertility. Donors are typically tested for sexually transmitted diseases as part of the overall evaluation process.
Infertility in China has risen to 12.5 percent during the 30 years ending in 2010, Quartz reported, citing the most recent government study.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.