China Relaxes its One-Child Policy

The source of the photo is by Own work. The author is Daniel Case. From Wikimedia Commons.

In response to the ageing population of the country, the Chinese communist party has taken drastic action and announced that couples from anywhere in China are now allowed to have two children.

Previous legislation stated that couples living in Chinese cities were limited to only one child and couples from the countryside were only able to have a second child if their first was a girl. The one-child policy was introduced in 1979 in a bid to slow down a rapid increase in population. Although it was successful in slowing population growth, it has actually worked so effectively that it has severely disrupted both the age and gender balance in China.

Not only has the policy disturbed the delicate balance but it has also created a generation of so-called ‘Little Emperors’. These ‘only boys’ seemed to have aptly lived up to their name as they are regarded as spoilt and over-indulged, with many employers publicly saying they will not hire only children as their expectations are too high.

An overwhelming preference for baby boys has also caused major issues for those looking for love. It is estimated that there is a surplus of 30 million men struggling to find a bride in China. This bachelor surplus has increasingly made marriage a matter of valuation and investment as opposed to love.

Over the years, China’s brutal one-child policy has created thousands of heartbreaking stories of lost children. A report from a senior official revealed the ruthlessness with which this policy was enforced. He admitted that he was often assigned to hunt down pregnant women, cart them off to hospital and guard them to ensure they didn’t escape a forced abortion. Other first-hand accounts have also exposed that officials went even further to monitor and control women’s fertility, with medical snoopers carrying out impromptu ultrasounds or monitoring women’s menstrual cycles to uncover concealed foetuses. Couples who did become pregnant faced fines or imprisonment for attempting to bypass the legalisation.

Due to the cruel way in which this policy was enforced, many are wondering why China has decided to make such a groundbreaking change in the legislation. The real crux of the answer is that China is worried about not getting rich quickly enough, as an ageing population prevents the boom in the economy it so desperately wants. According to the Community Party’s Central Committee, the decision is designed “to improve the balanced development of population” and deal with an ageing population. The government is so frantic for couples to have more children that some areas even offer a cash lump sum to encourage people to have another child.

Despite the policy allowing two children, it is expected that many families will not take advantage of it, as it has become the social norm to have only one child. Some critics say that even the two-child policy will not boost the birth rate enough to alter the economy as the effects of the previous one-child limit have been too profound.

The policy which has finally come to an end after 35 years shaped the way the country lived, loved and died.

Global Seven News

Jade Parker

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