The Demise of China's Inhuman One Child Policy?

china-one-child-propaganda-poster-photo-by-tim-stelzer.jpg

Sam Hargadine, ContributorLast Modified: 16:04 p.m. DST, 19 March 2013

China One Child Policy PropagandaCHINA - As incomes rise, the fertility rate falls – or so says demographic trends. Unique to China though, this trend did not evolve naturally, it was mandated by the government.

China’s one child policy was instituted in 1979 and has underdone modest reforms in the three decades since. However during this month’s National People’s Congress, China’s legislature approved a radical reshuffle over the bureaucratic office in charge of the policy. A sign the rule may soon be scrapped.

On 10 March, it was announced that the family planning office would be merged with the health ministry to create a new super agency, the Health and Family Planning Commission. By routing decisions through the health ministry, the effect is likely to curb the influence of one-child bureaucrats on the national level.

According to Zuo Xuejin of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, the combining of the two offices will weaken the family planning wing because health ministry officials are far more competent. As the two agencies combine, health officials will likely crowd out once all-powerful bureaucrats from the family planning office.

This change is gradual and behind the scenes, indicating a trend in itself for the new Presidency of Xi Jinping. The President understands that the Communist Party’s rule is partly owed to a perception of stability and indefatigability. Radical changes, such as a quick scrapping of the one child policy, could unleash a call for even greater reforms in areas more sensitive to one party rule. An outcome Mr. Xi hopes to avoid.

In actuality only 35.9 percent of China’s population is subject to one-child restrictions. These Chinese are largely urban and therefore more likely to be middle class. Ethnic minorities, rural households, and households where both parents are only children are allowed more than one child. Specific to China’s largest and wealthiest city, Shanghai, the fertility rate has dipped to 0.7 births/woman, one of the lowest rates in the world.

In South Korea and Japan the fertility rates are well below replacement, at 1.21 and 1.27 respectively. Hong Kong and Macau round out the bottom of league tables at 0.97 and 0.91. This suggests that the average urban Mainland home will follow this demographic trend. Thus asserts Mr. Zuo, the policy is simply not needed anymore.

The likely course of action will be a gradual relaxation of enforcement rather than outright repeal. Already provincial level governments largely enforce the policy, further reducing the influence of family planning mandarins in Beijing.

As is often the case in China, change comes slowly. Because demographic trends will likely make one-child homes a preferred choice on the mainland as it has with China’s neighbors, a radical shift does the government little good. Slow and steady wins the race – at least so thinks Mr. Xi.

Follow Sam Hargadine on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributor: @SamHargadine

Feng Jianmei Loses Battle And Baby

china-one-child-policy-translatation-single-child-brings-glory-photo-by-alaskie.jpg

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 20:53 PM EDT, 27  June 2012

Feng Jianmei, Chinese Woman Forced Abortion, Photo by Calle.comSHAANXI PROVINCE, China – Feng Jianmei, 23, fought and lost the battle against the Chinese government and its one-child policy. Unlike other Chinese dissidents who risk torture and imprisonment, Feng paid an excruciating physical and psychological price for her defiance while she waited 36 hours for her body to abort her dead fetus after being forcibly injected with a chemical.

But it was her seven month old child who paid the ultimate price after experiencing an unknown amount of suffering. Abortion is a difficult and personal choice for any woman; however, in most countries legal options for aborting a fetus past the first trimester are rarely undertaken unless the mother’s life is in danger. It would be nearly impossible to find a reputable doctor to perform this procedure simply because the family is unable to bear the financial burden.

In Feng’s case, she was forced to abort her child not because of any medical reason, but because of financial constraint. What makes this case even more reprehensible is the fact that the child was most likely viable and at seven months could have survived outside of her womb and if the family had chosen could have potentially been put up for adoption.

According to the Economist, “Breaching China’s one-child policy carries a severe financial penalty. Parents in Shanghai pay between three and six times the city’s average yearly income in what are called “social-maintenance fees” (SMF) for extra children. He Yafu, an independent scholar and critic of the one-child policy, estimates the government has collected over 2 trillion yuan ($314 billion) in SMFs since 1980.

Failure to pay the fine carries grave repercussions. The second ‘black child’ cannot get a household registration, a hukou, which carries with it such basic rights as education. But backlash can be more severe. When Ms Guo’s brother refused to pay his SMF, family-planning officials destroyed his house, pulling down the walls and wrecking the furniture.” (The Economist)

Unfortunately, the Feng’s family was not even allowed the opportunity to live with the consequences of their obvious decision to have the child despite the policy.  Feng was forced to undergo an abortion on June 2 simply because her family could not afford a 40,000 yuan ($6,300) fine for having a second child.

In response to the forced abortion, the family posted photographs of Feng lying in her bed next to the dead child minutes after she aborted. Though this is not the first time that a family has chosen to defy China’s one-child policy, but it is the first time the ramifications of the one-child policy has been escalated to international attention. Usually, parents who find themselves in the untenable position of the prospect of bearing another child without the financial means to pay the requisite fees opted for an abortion, but the choice was not brutally imposed upon them.

In the past any resistance to this policy was quickly and easily squelched by the government as anti-China propaganda. However, in the case of Feng Jianmei, and despite attempts by the government to persuade the press that her assertions were nothing more than a hoax and publicity stunt; the viral nature of social media where the photos were posted has made it difficult for them to discredit this family’s claims.

In light of this, the Ankang city government has openly apologized to the Feng family; suspended three officials involved in the case, and promised to initiate an immediate investigation into the matter.

As if the execution of her child was not enough, the hospital in which she was forced to undergo the abortion has apparently been instructed to detain her despite numerous requests by Feng and her family for her immediate release so that she can continue to recuperate at home.

To date this has not occurred and according to news sources, Feng and her family are under immense pressure to retract their statements to the foreign media.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report Now on Twitter

Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias