Appeals for donation from sperm banks trigger online discussions amid China's population decline
Published: Feb 10, 2023 11:03 PM
Two workers store sperm in a liquid nitrogen tank kept at below -196 C in a sperm bank in Shenyang, Liaoning Province. Photo: CFP

Two workers store sperm in a liquid nitrogen tank kept at below -196 C in a sperm bank in Shenyang, Liaoning Province. File Photo: VCG

Sperm donation has become a hot topic on Chinese social media in the past few days after a local institute in Southwest China's Yunnan issued an appeal encouraging college students in the provincial capital Kunming to donate sperm on Wednesday.

Sperm banks in other places, including Northwest China's Shaanxi, have published similar appeals. The public was intrigued and discussion became heated partly because the appeals were made after China's population recorded a decrease in 2022, the first decline in six decades.

According to Yunnan's sperm bank, donors should be aged between 20 and 40, taller than 1.65 meters, have no infectious or genetic diseases, and should hold or be pursuing a degree.

The donor needs to go through a health check and those who qualify will make 8-12 donations, with a subsidy payment of 4,500 yuan ($664).

A staff member told the media that usually no more than 20 percent of volunteers are qualified to donate.

The Shaanxi sperm bank raised the height criteria to 1.68 meters and the subsidy for a complete donation is 5,000 yuan.

The news triggered public interest and people started to compare criteria of different sperm banks.

They found Shanghai provides the highest subsidy of 7,000 yuan, while Beijing has the most detailed requirements for a donor's health - baldness, bad living habits such as smoking and drinking, severe nearsightedness and hypertension are on the blacklist.

Some interpreted the news as a signal that China will come up with more policies encouraging childbirth amid the country's population decrease. But the latest appeal was more of a result of college students returning to campus after the relaxation of COVID restrictions.

Due to the sealing-off of college campuses in the past three years, the donation amount has dropped a lot while patients in need of sperm samples has remained at the normal level, said the staff member from the Yunnan sperm bank.

Global Times