Friday, June 22, 2012

China's One Child Policy Unfairly Applied

An article in The Economist shows how unevenly Chinese authorities apply its long-standing one-child policy, a family-planning initiative to control the growth of its large population. A forced abortion done on  23-year-old Feng Jianmei, residing in a remote village in the north-western province of Shaanxi, went viral in China, thus making the issue more prominent.
Prominent voices joined in the criticism. “The outrageous and violent forced- abortion incident in June is not unique to Shaanxi”, wrote Liang Jianzhang, on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. Mr Liang is chief executive of Ctrip, one of China’s most successful travel companies. “Abolition of the absurd family-planning policy is the only way to root out this kind of evil,” he went on. Mr Liang’s post has been retweeted more than 18,000 times.
The scandal is a blow to the one-child policy’s public image, says He Yafu, a demographer and critic of the policy. That image has never been good, even if in recent years many learned to live with it. In 1983, 14m women had abortions organised by family-planning committees (many of them coerced). In 2009, there were 6m. The number has declined in recent years as local officials have more incentives to impose fines on extra births rather than prevent them altogether.
Thus, persons of means can elect to pay a fine that varies by region and by family income; in many cases it is way beyond the ability of the average citizen. Known in China as the "social maintenance fee," it can be negotiated downward by having the right political connections. For the rest, chiefly the poor, it seems their options are limited: undergo forced abortions, all in the name of state family planning.

The rest of the article can be read at [The Economist


  1. When I lived in China in 1984 and 1989, people spoke of "neighborhood committees." They were generally composed of old women who went to every home in the area and asked women when they had had their last period. If their period was late, they would be encouraged to have a pregnancy test and to abort their fetus if they already had a child.
    An unexpected result of the one-child policy is the disproportionate number of young men. As a way to deal with the inability of young men to find wives, China is encouraging homosexuality--a remarkable step for a Marxist country. Gay men can feel free not to marry women and can look for same-sex partners. But what about the poor lesbians?

  2. Yes, I have heard about the shortage of available wives, a result of the Chinese favouring sons; I was not aware of China's official policy regarding homosexuality, but now that you mention it, it fits within Chinese pragmatism.


Comment Policy:

All comments will be moderated; and bear in mind that anonymous, hostile, vulgar and off-topic comments will not be published. Thoughtful, reasonable and clear comments, bearing your real name, will be. All comments must be in English.