Chinese authorities are investigating a wealthy couple in the Guangdong province who have eight babies – five through surrogates, according to published reports.

China has a one-child policy, while surrogacy is illegal.

The Guangzhou Daily newspaper reported that the couple spent almost 1 million yuan (about $158,000) on in-vitro fertilization and two surrogate mothers.

Chinese media did not identify the couple – but typically those who break the country’s strict family planning laws are subject to heavy fines (amounting to as much as a one-year average salary) and can even have their access to social services cut. In some cases, couples have actually gone to prison.

According to media, these “excessive” children (sometimes referred to as “black” children) have no legal rights in China.

A local family planning official told Agence France Presse: This is not only a case of excessive births but it is about illegal surrogate pregnancies.”

Zhang Feng, director of the Guangdong Provincial Family Planning Commission, told the the Xinkuai Newspaper that having so many children is illegal and immoral,

The topic has generated much comment on Chinese web sites, according to BBC, with most of the vitriol directed at the wealthy who are able to pay for expensive surrogate services.

''Since they are so rich, they should be fined at least 80 percent of their total assets,'' wrote one web commented, according to BBC.

''For the rich and famous, money can buy anything,'' another wrote on the internet. ''Are family planning policies directed only towards the poor people?''

China has imposed the one-child policy for thirty years as a way to control population growth, but now the rule is generating increased opposition. Like many developed countries, China is also facing an aging demography and falling birthrates.