China abandons one-child policy
On the 29 of October, the government of China announced the end of the controversial One Child Policy. By Ben Macready.
The policy will be replaced with a new ‘Two Child policy’ which will come into effect after its ratification by the National People’s Congress in March 2016. The old law will, however, still be enforced until the new one is formally implemented. Official statements from the Communist Party of China explain the changing of this law as being motivated by China’s ‘aging population’ and the ‘economic cost’ of enforcing the One Child Policy. Government statistics indicate that approximately 90 million Chinese couples will be able to benefit from this change of policy and will have a second child.
The old policy was implemented in 1978 (two years after the death of Mao Zedong) as an attempt to curb the rapidly rising population of China and to lower the demand for vital resources such as water, food and electricity. Despite being sternly implemented through state-enforced abortions, the One Child Policy was not entirely monolithic: as ethnic minorities, couples where both parents were only children and rural couples with a single female child, were permitted to have two children.
The one child policy has led to female infanticide, forced abortions, and the under-reporting of female births according to campaigners
Reactions to this change in policy have been mixed, both within China and in the world at large. In a statement published on Chinese social media, one commenter stated, ‘I am grateful to the party for liberalizing the two-child policy; I can finally have a little sister’. Though others have had less positive reactions, in an interview with ‘Voice of America News’ a woman from Beijing argued that, ‘I can’t even dare to think about having a child. Having one child is like fulfilling a responsibility, and a second would be like creating an even bigger burden’.
Qinwei Wang and Gareth Leather, of Capital Economics (a London based economic research consultancy), have claimed that they believe the impact of changing the policy will be, ‘relatively small’ as it would take 15 years for any new-born children to enter the Chinese labour force and many urban Chinese couples have completed a survey stating they are ‘not particularly anxious to have more children’.
The policy reform signals a small relaxation of the typical governing style of the Chinese Communist Party.