June 25th, 2012 | Global Times Policy must reflect generation changes
China’s family planning policy has made historical contributions, but now needs reform to adapt to the new stage of social development.
Back in the 1950s, central authorities vigorously encouraged population growth. It was a form of self-repair after a century of war and turbulence. However, this led to a gigantic peak in population figures in the 1980s. This would have gone out of control without the introduction of the family planning policy. There is no way that China could have coped with a doubling of its population by today.
But in many areas, especially rural China, the policy hasn’t been strictly practiced. The media have exposed several cases of forced abortion, but many details indicated that the coercive abortion could be more a form of discrimination against migrants, rather than a strict implementation of the family planning policy.
This is an inhumane scandal. It should be noted that nationwide, such abuses are sharply down, due to the improvement of grass-roots law enforcement personnel and changing mentalities about offspring. But public responses to the one-child policy, stirred up by this case, deserve our attention.
Policymakers do need to reflect upon and readjust the policy. Over recent decades, the Chinese population has witnessed changes in its structure again. One of the most prominent changes is the growing aging population. It is necessary to prevent a horror scenario as the one-child generation is no longer able to support that of their parents as they grow older.
The government is already aware of this, and has loosened the one-child policy under specific conditions. For instance, if both parents are only children, they can have two children. Families with extraordinary pressure to take care of the elderly can also be exempt from the one-child limitation.
This loosening tendency should continue. Even in rural areas today, people have far different mentalities about giving birth. Younger Chinese couples understand that they should provide a good education and healthy environment for their children, and many have already dropped the idea of giving birth only to have a son.
After all, the essence of the family planning policy is to adjust the timing and scale of population trends, rather than rigidly limit the number of children.
The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Chen Chenchen, based on an interview with Lu Teng, secretary-general of Shanghai Financial Engineering Association.
By Global Times