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All Change for China's One-Child Policy?

World  (tags: China, 1-child-policy, demographics, asia, freedoms, society )

- 1966 days ago -
Recently a powerful government think-tank, the China Development Research Foundation, urged Beijing to allow two children for every family by 2015, according to the state's Xinhua news agency.

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Angelika R (143)
Saturday February 2, 2013, 10:07 am
At least once a year, the same rumour circulates: China is about to do away with its 30-year-old one-child policy.

By the time the rumour finally becomes fact, it may make little difference to the birth rate in China, which has fallen so much that a shortage of young workers is already threatening mainland economic development, according to demographic experts. But it will make a big difference to women who, under the policy, are subjected to forced abortions.

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Feng Jianmei is one of those women. In June last year, she was forced to abort her seven-month-old foetus, and pictures of her lying next to the small, bloodied corpse went viral in China and around the world.

Most people in China do not support forced abortions and the Feng Jianmei incident provoked an outcry on Chinese social media sites . Just before November’s leadership transition, a six-months pregnant mother of two in northern China’s Shandong province was bundled into a van, driven to a hospital and subjected to a chemically induced abortion, according to All Girls Allowed, a US anti-abortion group. The woman’s husband told the group that government officials later paid him Rmb40,000 ($6,400) in compensation, perhaps fearing the news could cause controversy before the transition.

No one knows how many women have been forced to abort late in their pregnancies since the one-child policy took effect in 1979, because no statistics are published. Demographers believe that recently the number has not been high because most officials prefer to fine couples after births rather than attract attention to a forced abortion – though forced abortions in the first trimester are common. But the difference in Feng Jianmei’s case was the existence of photographic evidence, which was widely circulated online – and, crucially, the fact that local media were allowed to report the incident.

“There has been no change in the one-child policy,” says He Yafu, a Chinese demographer, “but [the Feng Jianmei case] was a turning point in terms of media coverage. Before, the media was not allowed to report [such cases] but this one was widely reported.”

Perhaps unexpectedly, most people in China support the one-child policy, according to a 2008 survey by the Pew Research Centre , which found more than three in four Chinese were in favour. Yet despite this, most Chinese demographers believe it is only a matter of time before the policy will be changed, “but we have been waiting for the other shoe to drop for a long time already”, says Cai Yong, a demographic expert at the University of North Carolina, currently a visiting scholar at Fudan University in Shanghai.

There is plenty of circumstantial evidence that the government is seriously considering altering what is referred to as the one-child policy – though there are so many exceptions that many demographers call it “the 1.5-child policy” (second babies are permitted where both spouses are only children, where a rural couple’s first child is a girl or handicapped, and for ethnic minorities).

Recently a powerful government think-tank, the China Development Research Foundation, urged Beijing to allow two children for every family by 2015, according to the state’s Xinhua news agency.

“China has paid a huge political and social cost for the policy, as it has resulted in social conflict, high administrative costs and led indirectly to a long-term gender imbalance at birth,” Xinhua quoted the report as saying.
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But Mr Cai points out that any decision to scrap the policy would be taken by politicians, not think-tank experts. And Mr He says there are significant bureaucratic obstacles to its removal: “The Family Planning Commission maintains it is not in the national interest, but purely in the interest of their department, which would otherwise cease to exist.”

Perhaps the most telling recent prediction came when state media interrupted normal broadcasting to announce that China’s first Nobel Prize for literature had been awarded to Mo Yan, whose latest book portrays a rural doctor who conducts abortions to enforce the policy. Many millions of Chinese will read his books, doubtless fuelling public debate about the worst aspects of the policy.

Most demographers think that it would be too late to avert a demographic crisis in China even if the policy were to be changed tomorrow. The slowdown in births has already led to a dramatic rise in the ratio of pensioners to young workers needed to support them. According to the 2010 census, the number of people over the age of 60 has risen to 13.3 per cent of the population compared with just over a tenth a decade ago; children under 14 comprise less than one-sixth of the population, down from almost a quarter 10 years ago.

And there is scant sign that most Chinese would begin having large families when and if the policy is abolished. According to the most recent figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, the estimated 2011 birth rate among women aged 20-29 was only 1.04 – though there is likely to be some underreporting – and in 2010 the overall birth rate in cities was only 0.88.

Rising affluence tends to lower birth rates in the developing world, but the policy has so thoroughly penetrated the national psyche that millions of Chinese who are permitted to bear a second child choose to have one or none at all. Perhaps proponents of the policy will finally declare victory and withdraw – before they are embarrassed by any more images of bloody foetuses circulating on the internet.

Past Member (0)
Saturday February 2, 2013, 10:45 am
God no. Overpopuation is killing our planet and it's resources already. China is the biggest animal abusers,polluters,human rights violatiors, and literally i can go on and on...This country should not even allow for 1 child,nevermind 2. No more people,PLEASE.

. (0)
Saturday February 2, 2013, 10:59 am
How do you respond to a woman having an abortion after 6 months? I can't. It's called murder. The ignorance concerning birth control has been an issue in Asia for generations. Why the Communists have not given into supplying birth control (condoms at least), is beyond me.
The strain on the work force simply has to be bared. China simply cannot afford to have more than 2 children per household.

Angelika R (143)
Saturday February 2, 2013, 12:11 pm
Nobody is speaking of "more than 2", you should read Allan. But I agree with Natasha, even 1 is one too many.

Rebecca S (61)
Saturday February 2, 2013, 1:42 pm
A two child policy sounds like a good idea to me. I am all for zero population growth.

Animae C (514)
Saturday February 2, 2013, 6:52 pm
i don't believe any govt has the right to tell women what to do with their bodies.

The one child policy is responsible for millions of female only fetus abortions. Female babies are dumped & murdered to this day & there's the little emperor phenomenon, a generation of male pampered and entitled children who believe they sit at the center of the social universe because that’s exactly how they’ve been treated. There is now a huge gender imbalance in china.


Angelika R (143)
Saturday February 2, 2013, 7:29 pm
That is absolutely correct Sioux and that is why they SHOULD allow contraceptives!
The females that survive often or mostly flee the country and seek jobs abroad, I personally know a few here in Berlin. If they know nobody abroad and have no relatives living there already they are doomed to struggle.

Joshua Bigley (8)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 5:38 am
I am applaled by the little emperor phenomeno though I am not against early abortion. Angelica have you considered the world is overpopulated and China is grossly overpopulated--it is not sustaibable--it is lethal to humanity--and must be radically controlled. Who is to say that a two child policy would prevent or curb forced abortions or the slaughter of unborn girls--i dont believe it would. They would try unitl they get thier boy no matter what--and two, gives them an excuse to try again and suddenly you have three but one child is easy to hide among family memebers, so you have another--now ther is four, and perhaps still no boy. i wouldnt put it past some "peasnets" to sell thos extra babies. In fact im certain it happens and would happen more frequently. I know many families in china with trhee and four children--often cared for by aunts and friends and grandparents and hidden from officil records or records are falsified or officials are bribed--often. i dont see an easy solution, but I do think we need, we must think out of the box--and so i ma not oppossed to sterilization--as horrible as it sounds to some people--its time to grow up--its not so bad and its the humane thing to do considering the circumstances. The alternative is a dystopian earth on the brink of collapse--oh, wait we are there all ready. Sometimes the best solution is not the most acceptable or loved solution but is the most reasonable and even th enost humane. Girls do better in school and can do anything a boy can do if not better--which is proven all ove rht eworld, especially in China where girls consistently show bette results at school. I think the 1.5 child policy is reasonable--but should be enforced more compassionatley. And I think it doesnt go far enough. i think one 1,5 children should be the limit, with mandatory sterilization for either male or female partner after the first born--girl or boy. The people must be educated aggressively and compassionatly on sustainability and the value of women and all life as well the environment--not told but shown and appealed to. Any crimes against girls should be dealt with severely and immediatley. Ther eis no enforcement of any crime in china--slaveery is common and known and ignored. people die in the streets and they are neglected and chinese people find excuses for their cowardly and inhuman treatment of others. The community must deal with people who abduct women and sell them to peasent farmers for wives--holding them agains thtier will and raping them--fairly common. But nothin is done about it. Even the polie say, what can we do? And the farmers say, you cant take a way my wife, what right do you have (wive being abducted sex/kitchen slave)--showing no sympthay or empathy whatsoever--in fact they see them selves--the rapist as the victim when approched by cowardly policmman. WHat cna be done? What would you do? The farmer should be hauled off and beaten--sorry but its true--and he must be imprisoned and re-educated--but he is a danger to society. Do you want peopel like this reproducing? Lets be honest--is it more humane to let this monster reproduce or to sterilize him for all humanity. I think its fair. If society isnt cleaned up andeducated the next generation repeats the same mistakes--sometimes morlaty--ethics--must be manufactured--its sounds like dystopioan language but is it really. We invade countries and murder people by the millions and we are called heroic. Sterilizing sociopaths who abduct grown women and young grils forcing the into sex, motherhood, and slavery is not acceptable. Taking away that man's right o reproduce seems compassionate to me--it certainly wont harm him. and with too many men in china--a few more steril men will reduce th epopulation. The demoegraphics you speak of--in my view is ridiculous--we dont nee dmore people--we significantly less. If the economy is your best answer, i would ask u waht is an economy for--surely not to make the 1% richer, surely not to have NIke sneakers or ipods that ravage the earth and human beings in forced slavery and murderous rampages for the control of mines--blood diamond, conflict minerals...GDP is ameasure of poverty in any country, of anxiety, sickness, and wealth gaps. Surely,w e shoudl measure gross happiness, not money. We must reduce the poulation by law, by sterilization--not forced abortion, but education--contraceptives--most chinese dont use contraceptives. many americans, many westerners didnt either once upon a time--but education programs changed that. They need a four prong strategy--ethical/environmental education, contraceptive education & distribution--enforced, A 1.5 child policy, and enforced steriliation as a matter of educated-choice--volunteers, as a consequence and soultin to unjustifiable sex\human crimes, and as a compulsory directive following the first born 92nd in special cases). i would even go a step further, ideally, and prohibit all births for one generation. Anyone over 15 is forbidden form having children--let them mature, let them expereince life and take care of their own garden--and then the babies wil grow up with much care and start a new generttion after turning 30. I dont see why people MUST have children all the time, why people must start a family, MUSt be married, must have a mortgage and deby and contribute to consumer society--its vile and delusional. Imagine a world where all those people are raising the "new generatio"--the care that woudl go into that, the focus on the community. And when tht new generation is ready to concieve at 30 they will be properly educated. And gross domestic happiness will be thier mantra, not product. I think tis time we think outside the box and stop clinging to primitive notinos of right and wrong.

Past Member (0)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 6:06 am
Thanks for the post.

cecily w (0)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 6:37 am
Thank you for the article. Human population growth is so high that it is inaccurate to suggest that a nation's economy will "suffer" from being reduced. When there is a "shortage" of workers, it is the responsibility of planners to determine which economic activities can be curtailed. When there is a decrease of young people to support the old, it is the responsibility of politicians to find supplementary funding to contribute to the support of the elderly.

China has made three mistakes: (1) Emphasizing coercive abortion; (2) Failing to protect the male-female ratio (through public information, etc.); (3) Permitting exceptions for certain racial/ethnic groups.

Natalie S (13)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 7:12 am
Thank you so much for highlighting the plight of the Chinese under the one child policy. Unfortunately the forced abortions do not make the headlines as much as they should, with the result that we are fooled into complacency about the (lack of) freedom of the Chinese.

Mary Donnelly (47)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 1:10 pm

Lois Jordan (63)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 2:02 pm
Noted. Thanks, Angelika. The widespread use of contraception in China makes the most sense to me. I believe the International Violence Against Women Act would do a great deal to help here.

Winnie A (179)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 2:31 pm

Janet R (38)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 2:38 pm
Natasha - I completely agree with your comment, can't send you a star this week.

China is overpopulated and their policy shouldn't be revised, in my opinion. I do not understand why they are not using birth control and if a woman becomes pregnant, they abort early not after 6 months; that's way too late. I would like to see America adopt a 1 child policy but Americans would never agree to that and won't admit that perhaps our population is polluting excessively.

Cindy Roett (1)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 6:00 pm
One child families produce kids who are lacking in particular relationship skills necessary to function more competently in groups. They think they are the center of the Universe which they are taught at home and then when they get out into the real world their status comes crashing down as they become just "one of many".;however they still act like the linchpin of all that occurs.

Angelika R (143)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 6:16 pm
Cindy, while you have a point there, trouble is, they become "one of TOO many."

Jaime Alves (52)
Sunday February 3, 2013, 10:03 pm

Patricia N (9)
Monday February 4, 2013, 12:23 am
The worst thing with the one-child policy is a shortage of women for all the young men to marry. Dangerous stuff.

Scott haakon (4)
Monday February 4, 2013, 11:34 am
We cannot appreciate the populations problems as there are interlocking problems not discussed. In China there is no Social Security,Few if any pension plans. Male children are to take care of the old parents. There is even a law requiring visitation to parents. Children are both a curse and a hope but Female children have no such duty to the parents. The best way is for the state to create girls education (boarding school fashion) and a payment to the families for female children. Already the Chinese government recognizes the problem but there is no simple solution.

Scott haakon (4)
Monday February 4, 2013, 11:40 am
Josh you assertions are inaccurate.

Sergio Padilla (65)
Thursday February 7, 2013, 2:32 pm
This would be wrong!!!!!

Klaus Peters (14)
Saturday February 16, 2013, 8:10 am
Ups everybody, China will explode one day. Maybe I should have said implode. You brought it upon yourself China!!
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