CHINA CONSIDERS CHANGES TO HARSH FAMILY PLANNING POLICY by Tom Pauken II
by Special to DallasBlog.com
Fri, Jan 13, 2006, 06:38 PM
China is no beacon of human rights. It still has many of the features of a totalitarian system: restriction of freedom of the press and speech, a harsh judicial system, and arbitrary arrests of perceived opponents of the regime. The central government imposes social policy from the top down. One of its most notable policies is its family planning policy – a law that enforces one child per couple in the cities and two children in rural areas if the first is a girl.
The Beijing government claims that this policy has improved the quality of life for its citizens. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has provided assistance to China in implementing its population control policy.
The family planning policy in China has a dark side. Many women undergo forced abortions, sterilization and the involuntary insertion of IUDs’. While many consider these actions barbaric, the Chinese government has viewed its actions as necessary to limit population growth.
On Sept. 20, 2005, China Daily, a pro-Beijing newspaper, admitted that there are family planning abuses in eastern Shandong province, China. Farmers endured forced abortions and relatives of women refusing sterilization were detained by the authorities.
Recent developments reveal that China may be changing its family planning policy. The People’s Daily, a government sponsored newspaper from China, reported on Dec. 30, 2005, about a forum that was held at Beijing University. Scholars and government officials in attendance agreed that China should review its population policy. Cai Fang, head of Population and Labor Economy Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS), proposed a two child per family policy by stating, "China’s abundant labor force was once regarded as a "big bonus" to the country’s high speed economic growth with its GDP exceeding 25% in the past two decades…but now the bonus is decreasing."
Some women’s groups also expressed concern that the government’s current policy results in a male dominant nation because 117 boys are born for every 100 girls as the current policy results in more females being aborted.
One shouldn’t expect sudden changes, however, Yu Xuejin, director of the Policy & Law Department of the ‘State Family Planning Commission’, refuses to concede the failure of the current policy. He warns of environmental, employment and societal problems if China permits two children per family. Yet, he also hinted at an openness to change by suggesting that the government is "concerned with balance" as it assesses the advantages and costs "of changing its family planning policy. Yu Xuejin said that any change in policy should be a "scientific decision".
While the Chinese government won’t address the human rights violations associated with the current policy, even getting Beijing to debate its family planning policy is an accomplishment in itself. Most likely, the one child per family law will continue for the time being, including the practice of forced abortions. But, China is sending signals that it intends to liberalize its current policy.
The tragedy of the current family planning policy is that the Communist government has relied on cold-hearted logic with no place for human compassion. Perhaps, the horrific consequences of such a hard-hearted policy are becoming apparent even to the Communist rulers of China. Hopefully, these hints of a change in its national family policy will become a reality in the not too distant future and more humanitarian values will be considered by the state in constructing a new, national family policy.