BEIJING - People in China have been amazed to learn about a couple that spent nearly a million yuan (US$160,000) and illegally enlisted two surrogate mothers to help have eight children.

The incident has highlighted the use of birth surrogates, a violation of Chinese law, and how wealthy Chinese do as they please, without regard for the one-child policy and other rules.

Chinese media are calling the mother "octomom," a reference to the American woman who gave birth to octuplets using in vitro fertilization.

While some suspect a hoax, a media officer with the Guangdong Health Department said the case was real and under investigation.