IMAGE: China Daily
BEIJING, China -- Earlier this year, a number of news outlets reported that China may relax its One-Child Policy by allowing couples to have two children when one parent is an only child. There were also widespread speculations about a possible Two-Child Policy for all Chinese familes after 2015. However, recent statements from the Ministry of Health and Family Planning seem to indicate China's reluctance to change its long-standing population laws.
By imposing strict limitations on the size of families, the One-Child Policy is stifling many Chinese couples’ desire to have more children. A study conducted by the Ministry of Health and Family Planning in Nanjing shows that the majority (60%) of the city’s parents plan to have a second child. Since the population pool of the study was drawn from residents who meet the legal requirements to have a second child, it is likely that the national figure would exceed 60% if the One-Child Policy were loosened or abandoned.
Ever since coercive family planning was introduced, China has been witnessing a continually declining birthrate. In the city of Nanjing, where the above study was conducted, the birthrate has dropped to the level of 1.3 children per couple—the lowest in recorded history. Consequently, children under the age of 14 now comprise 9.5% of the city’s population, while the figure was 15.5% in 2000.
This alarming trend in Nanjing is a reflection of a larger demographic crisis now confronting China. China’s dwindling birthrate has given rise to a rapidly aging society. It is estimated that by 2050, nearly 25% of China’s population will be over 65 years old, a dramatic increase from the current figure of 8.5%.
The issue of population aging has troubling implications on China’s economy. Benjamin Shobert, an expert on health care and aging in China, writes: “The ongoing enforcement of the country's one-child policy means its once young and vibrant labor force will soon transition from contributing to China's economy, towards needing to draw resources out of the country's thinly supported pension and healthcare systems.”
In fact, Shobert’s prediction about China’s economy is slowly turning into reality. In 2012 alone, around 3.45 million Chinese laborers moved beyond the optimum working age of 15-59 years old. As a result of population aging, China has been facing an economic slowdown in recent years as the nation is increasingly led by consumption rather than investment. “Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore all got rich well before they got old. China, on the other hand, will get old well before it gets rich,” Shobert stated.
Above all, the One-Child Policy takes a heavy toll not only on China’s economy, but also on the innocent lives of countless mothers and daughters. The One-Child Policy has been in place for 33 years, during which over 336 million forced and coerced abortions have been performed. In the opening ceremony of the 11th National Women’s Congress held in Beijing last week, Chinese women were told to “hold up half the sky,” a reference to Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s view on gender equality. Yet, with the continuation of the One-Child Policy and the Chinese government’s failure to remove a policy that targets a woman's most fundamental rights, gender equality remains as elusive as ever before in present-day China.
Brian Lee, Executive Director of All Girls Allowed, said: "It is a strange thing that man does not mind being foolish, so long as no one else sees the folly. And yet, as soon as his folly has been exposed, he does everything he can to justify it. It is not too late for the leadership in China to acknowledge the error of their earlier policies and to make the courageous decision to move in a new direction that is consistent with their stated desires both for economic growth and gender equality. Then they will receive favor from both God and men. It is time to listen to God, to their consciences, to their experts, and to their people--to bring an end to the One-Child Policy."
All Girls Allowed (http://www.allgirlsallowed.org) was founded by Chai Ling in 2010 with a mission to display the love of Jesus by restoring life, value and dignity to girls and mothers in China and to reveal the injustice of the One-Child Policy. “In Jesus’ Name, Simply Love Her.”