Paternity Testing On the Rise in China

July 17, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: July 17, 2006 12:00 am

In the past, it only happened in the movies that a husband, thinking his wife had been unfaithful, would resort to paternity testing to prove his suspicions. Nowadays however, paternity testing is quite common. The Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences performed genetic testing of 3,000 fathers and their children and found non-paternity in 680 cases. This is an exclusion rate of 22.6 percent – 7.6 percent higher than last year.

According to the Beijing Morning Post, the number of paternity tests is increasing by 20 percent each year. In more populated areas like Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, the number of people requesting DNA testing increases by 40 to 50 percent yearly. The exclusion rate is also high – it was 30 percent in Guangzhou city alone.

Deng Yajun, Director of the Judiciary Evidence Verification Center in BGI, said that the majority of people who request such testing are those in white-collar jobs and with high incomes. If paternity testing was made available in rural areas, it is predicted that the exclusion rate could be nearly 50 percent, based on past test results of people from rural areas.

On June 30, 2006, Mr. Zhao broke down and cried bitterly in the Verification Center in BGI when he learned that he wasn't the father of his 8-year-old son. Deng said such a scene is not unusual.

“Suspicion is the number one reason husbands want to have such tests,” according to Deng. In over 75 percent of the cases Deng handled, it was the husband who brought the children in. Most of their wives didn't know about the testing. Some of the wives agreed to the testing but “never showed up.”

Deng also said that most of the husbands did not have any evidence to prove that their wives had cheated on them. They just had suspicions. In cases where wives brought children in for testing, they mostly wanted to prove their innocence. Increasingly, mothers arrive with samples of their children's and husband's hair for DNA testing.

An expert from the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences explained this phenomenon. Paternity testing is conducted because of suspicion and distrust. For a woman, even if the testing proved that the child was her husband's, she would always be under the shadow of distrust. A person's loyalty cannot be determined by a one-time test. The fundamental solution is for society to demonstrate restraint and for morality to increase.

In reality, paternity testing can show whether the child and husband are related and thus the wife's infidelity, but cannot prove whether the husband has been disloyal. An expert also worries that such tests will trigger family conflicts and even destroy marriages.