Population control measures in China were discussed at the CCP’s third plenary meeting in November, resulting in a slight modification of the despised one-child policy to allow parents, where one is an only-child, to have a second child.
Prior to the change, only cases where both parents were only-children could the couple apply for a permit to have a second child.
This announcement was widely interpreted in the media to mean that the policy had either been abolished or dramatically curtailed, both of which were inaccurate.
Mainland media Xinhua News, an organ of the CCP, said there was no timetable nationwide “to roll out the new policy”.
Mao Qunan, a National Health and Family Planning Commission spokesman, told state media that China’s economic growth in the past three decades was due to the one-child policy, saying it had prevented the births of 400 million people, resulting in greater prosperity.
Wang Feng, a public policy professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, disagrees. In a Nov. 12 article in Caixin magazine Wang was quoted saying he believes the policy’s contribution is exaggerated by family planning officials and that the greatest decline in China’s birth rate occurred in the ten years prior to the 1979 introduction of the policy. The birth rate plunged because of the promotion of birth control information during the 1970s, he said, adding that when the economy took off in 1987, the birth rate fell again.
“The improvement of living standards and changes in people’s views about the family and giving birth are the key forces driving the decline,” Wang said.
Critics of China’s one-child policy point to serious abuses, including forced abortions, selective abortions of female fetuses, and invasive forced birth control practices as further reason to eliminate the policy. Though Chinese authorities have denied the use of forced abortions, such cases have been documented by activists like Chen Guangcheng.
“Women are forced to abort babies up to the ninth month of pregnancy, and sometimes these forced abortions are so violent that the women themselves die along with their full-term babies,” Reggie Littlejohn, founder of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, an international coalition that opposes forced abortion said on the organization’s website.
“The one-child policy causes more violence towards women and girls than any other official policy on earth, than any other official policy in the history of the world,” Littlejohn said.