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China may move to end two-child policy

The Chinese government may be steering away from its two-child policy amid concerns over the economic effects of a shrinking birth rate.

These rumours were sparked by a social media post from China’s state-run Procuratorate Daily, which revealed that all content on family planning had been dropped from the country’s draft Civil Code.

Chinese lawmakers stated on Tuesday that this does not mean family planning policies will be abolished and the revised code won’t be completed until March 2020, but experts believe that an end to birth restrictions is likely.

Human rights abuses

In October 2015, China announced that it would allow couples to have two children after a decades-long one-child policy introduced in 1979 with the goal of reducing population growth and accelerating poverty alleviation. Although there were a number of exemptions from the policy, which was enforced through financial penalties, it led to selective abortion and even infanticide in favour of male infants, as well as forced abortions and sterilisations.

The relaxation of restrictions has not so far brought about the increase in birth rate the government was hoping for, which is why it may be preparing to move away from forcefully limiting the number of children people can have altogether.

Misguided policy

Attempting to increase births to deal with an ageing population is not a sustainable solution, and the risk that China may now introduce further policies to encourage population growth is a deep concern. China is second only to the US in its carbon emissions and in combination with increasing affluence, population growth will contribute to further environmental harm.

Ethical solutions

Population Matters does not support coercive population control measures such as those employed in China, as these infringe on human rights, cause serious social problems and are simply unnecessary. Achieving a sustainable population size does not require implementing restrictive policies. Thailand achieved the same reduction in its total fertility rate as China by running a progressive and ethical family planning campaign. Between 1960 and 2015, the average number of children per woman in Thailand decreased from 6.4 to 1.5.

By investing in female education and empowerment, providing access to quality family planning services and sex education and challenging norms favouring larger families, we can improve the health, well-being and environmental sustainability of all nations. This is why we strongly oppose President Trump’s move to reinstate and expand the Global Gag Rule, which has cut vital funding for family planning services across the globe. Please support our campaign to protect global family planning.


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