Date: October 29, 2015
BEIJING, CHINA (ANS, October 29, 2015) -- China has decided to end its decades-long one-child policy, the state-run Xinhua news agency reports. Couples will now be allowed to have two children, it said, citing a statement from the Communist Party.
According to the BBC, the controversial policy was introduced nationally in 1979, to slow the population growth rate. It is estimated to have prevented about 400 million births. However concerns at China's ageing population led to pressure for change.
The BBC report said couples who violated the one-child policy faced a variety of punishments, from fines and the loss of employment to forced abortions. Over time, the policy has been relaxed in some provinces, as demographers and sociologists raised concerns about rising social costs and falling worker numbers.
The BBC said the Communist Party began formally relaxing national rules two years ago, allowing couples in which at least one of the pair is an only child to have a second child.
The BBC explained the policy, introduced in 1979, meant that many Chinese citizens - around a third, China claimed in 2007 - could not have a second child without incurring a fine. In rural areas, families were allowed to have two children if the first was a girl
Other exceptions included ethnic minorities and - since 2013 - couples where at least one was a single child.
The BBC reported that campaigners say the policy led to forced abortions, female infanticide, and the under-reporting of female births. It was also implicated as a cause of China's gender imbalance.
The BBC went on to explain the decision to allow families to have two children was designed "to improve the balanced development of population'' and to deal with an aging population, according to the statement from the Community Party's Central Committee carried by the official Xinhua News Agency on Thursday.
Currently about 30 percent of China's population is over the age of 50, the BBC said.
The BBC report added that correspondents say despite the relaxation of the rules, many couples may opt to only have one child, as one-child families have become the social norm.
According to the BBC's John Sudworth, critics say that even a two-child policy will not boost the birth rate enough. And for those women who want more than two children, nor will it end the state's insistence on the right to control their fertility, he added.
"As long as the quotas and system of surveillance remains, women still do not enjoy reproductive rights," Maya Wang of Human Rights Watch told Agence France Presse (AFP).
The BBC stated the Chinese Government announcement comes on the final day of a summit of the Chinese Communist Party's policy-making Central Committee, known as the fifth plenum. The party is also set to announce growth targets and its next five year plan.
Reggie Littlejohn, President, Women's Rights Without Frontiers
“However, instituting a two-child policy will not end forced abortion, gendercide or family planning regulations in China. Couples will still have to have a birth permit for the first and the second child, or they may be subject to forced abortion.”
“The core of the One Child Policy is not whether the number of children the government allows. It's the fact that the government is setting a limit on children, and enforcing this limit coercively. That will not change under a two-child policy. The One Child Policy does not need to be modified. It needs to be abolished.
Littlejohn stated: “Women will still be forcibly aborted under a universal 2-child policy. We need to keep up the pressure until China abandons all coercive population control.”
Other experts say the new policy could mean that China’s population, now around 1.5 billion, could increase until it tops out at 1.6 billion, before declining.
According to Hans Rosling a Swedish medical doctor, academic, statistician and public speaker, who is Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institute, talking to BBC Radio, also said that China’s one-child policy had failed.
Rosling said the average number of births per female worldwide is 2.5. Births in Africa were increasing, while in Asia, women were having fewer children. He added that, worldwide, there were now more adults than children.
To view “Stop Forced Abortion – China’s War on Women!” Video (4 mins) click here:
About the writer: Michael Ireland is a Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as a volunteer Internet Journalist and Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and ASSIST News Service since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Click http://paper.li/Michael_