The End of China’s One Child Policy

By Qiyong Sally Zhang

China’s one child policy has been abandoned. All couples can now have two children. This three-decade long policy ended on Oct. 29, according to a communiqué issued by the Communist Party of China.

“I’m shaking to be honest. It’s one of those things that you have been working on and saying for years and recommending they should do something and it finally happened. It’s just a bit of shock,”  Stuart Gierel-Bastern, a University of Oxford demographer, said in The Guardian.

“This is a historical moment signaling the complete end of the one-child policy,” Wang Feng, a demographer at Fudan University in Shanghai, said in The Wall Street Journal.

The one child policy, also called the family planning policy, was started in 1979 by the president Xiaoping Deng to limit China’s population growth. Population growth has always been a big issue in China. China has more than 1.3 billion people, which makes it the largest country in the world. The Chinese Communist Party believes that a large population limits the country’s economic development and also increases the pressure on the environment.

This policy has been controversial since it started. Cai Yong, an expert on China’s population, told the Associated Press, “A draconian birth control policy is not the answer to the world population problem.” Also, some people believe that this policy promotes the abuse of human rights. In rural China, there have been some events in which the local government forced women to abort a child due to the policy of the central Chinese government.

4374017007_e7436403c6_zThis policy reduced the population by 300 million people in its first 20 years.  At the beginning of the 21 century, the government began to relax the policy. In 2013, the Chinese government published a new policy, if both of the spouses are an only child of their family, they can have a second child.

Besides relieving the population problem, stimulating the economy may be another reason for abandoning this policy. According to the New York Times, compared with earlier years, the Chinese economic growth in the third quarter was 6.9 percent, which was the slowest since the global financial crisis of 2009.

Some people believe that the abandonment of the one child policy means a positive step of China towards personal freedom and human rights. However, some western media still believe that this only shows the “loosening” of the one child policy, instead of the abandonment of the policy.

“If China is serious about respecting human rights, the government should immediately end such invasive and punitive controls over people’s decisions to plan families and have children,”  William Nee, a Hong Kong activist for Amnesty International, said in The Guardian.

Photograph by Sung Ming Whang courtesy of Flickr.

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