DALLAS (BP) — You’ve heard the news: China is fully abandoning its one-child-per-family birth policy. Now it’s a two-child-per-family policy.
The Wall Street Journal described China’s one-child policy as “the most notorious of the Communist Party’s intrusions into Chinese lives” and “one of the worst government intrusions on freedom in world history.” The new policy will still limit the number of children a family has, now to two, instead of one. The Journal says this shows “Beijing isn’t ready to totally relinquish its grip on the homes and bedrooms of its people.”
Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers that opposes abortion and sexual slavery in China, agrees. She has traveled the world attempting to convince national and international leaders to lean on China to drop its population policy. “A two-child policy will not end any of the human rights abuses caused by the one-child policy, including forced abortion, involuntary sterilization or the sex-selective abortion of baby girls.”
Littlejohn maintains that China’s one-child birth policy has, for most of its 35-year existence, been more about the Chinese Communist Party’s power and domination over the population than it has been about keeping the population at a certain level.
The worst part about the policy simply has not gone away. It’s still coercive.
Political economist Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute says the Chinese government is simply unwilling to dispense with the instruments of control that have accompanied its birth policy. Plus, he says, there are issues like “the difficulty of retasking the vast army of population-control bureaucrats” and “the value of the hefty fines exacted for out-of-quota births.”
The change to a two-child policy was a demographic decision made at a meeting of China’s top party leaders known as the Fifth Plenum. At that meeting leaders laid out a five-year plan for “moderately high growth.” But, this change may be too little too late to avert the economic consequences of the rapid graying of China.
A shrinking workforce is a real impediment to growth. But China has known this for decades. China’s population growth was already well below replacement when the one-child policy was rolled out in the late 1970s.
The implementation was brutal. Some families practiced infanticide, really gendercide, to get the desired boy. Now ultrasound facilitates sex-selective abortions. Last year, 116 boys were born for every 100 girls, a recipe for disruptive imbalance.
Two years ago, China issued a partial relaxation of its birth policy, allowing couples in which both spouses were only children to have two kids. Not enough couples applied for second birth permits to make much of a difference. Many couples worried about the expense of having a second child. Plus there’s just a sort of one-child mindset that’s not quickly reversed.
I have spoken with Chinese people who moved to America who were fine with the policy. But after living here a few years, they happily bore second children.
What’s needed in China is the dawning of freedom and sanctity of life.