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Backpedaling the birth policy

Will the Chinese government soon nix its longstanding birth limits for families?

A nurse attends newborn babies at a hospital in Huainan city, China Imaginechina via AP

Backpedaling the birth policy
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The Chinese government is contemplating ending all birth limits on its citizens. The proposal would end a nearly 40-year policy that has led to millions of abortions, abandoned babies, forced abortions and sterilizations, and “hidden children” who live without documentation or access to healthcare, schooling, or jobs.

China’s State Council has commissioned research on the consequences of ending family planning policies in China, government sources told Bloomberg News. The government could allow families to decide for themselves the number of children they want starting at the end of the year.

The move is an attempt to reverse the effects of China’s horrendous family planning experiment, which could otherwise force a shrinking labor force to support a ballooning elderly population. The one-child policy has had other disastrous effects on China’s demographics: Due to a traditional preference for boys, families often abort or abandon baby girls, leading to a ratio of 115 boys for every 100 girls, according to the World Bank. Millions of Chinese bachelors are unable to find wives, fueling human trafficking from nearby countries such as North Korea. The one-child policy has also produced a generation of so-called “Little Emperors” who have been waited on hand and foot by their parents and grandparents.

One of the policy’s most devastating results is the normalization of abortion in Chinese society: The U.S. State Department has estimated 23 million abortions occur each year in China, with most older women having multiple abortions throughout their lifetime. In the church, the situation is similar: Pastors often advise women who get pregnant with a third child to abort in order to follow the law and to “be a good witness.” Local pro-life groups are making headway in churches, but the majority do not yet have a Biblical view of the sanctity of life.

But even rescinding birth limits is unlikely to increase births to the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman (China’s current fertility rate is 1.57 births per woman). Today it’s not just laws that keep Chinese families small, but an internalized belief that it’s too costly and inconvenient to have more than one child. For instance, China relaxed its policy to allow couples to have two children in 2015, but that’s led to only a small increase in births. Although the number of births increased by 8 percent in 2016, it fell by 3.5 percent last year to 17.2 million, according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics.

At WORLD, we’ve often reported on China’s one-child policy and its effects, focusing on the courageous groups working to save lives, like All Girls Allowed, Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, and local Chinese pro-life ministries.

Facebook saving face:

Facebook admitted to having given Chinese telecom company Huawei access to some users’ data since 2010. Huawei, which U.S. intelligence officials have flagged as a national security threat, has close ties to the Chinese government. Facebook representatives said they would end their relationship with the company this week.

June Cheng

June is a reporter for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and covers East Asia, including China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.



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