One-child policy comes under attack in China

Pressure is mounting in China for a change in the “one-child” policy that has resulted in forced abortions and sterilisations, according to a New York Times report.

Recent reports of local officials coercing women into late-term abortions have prompted an outcry among policy advisers and scholars who are trying to push central government officials to change or repeal the law that penalises families for having more than one child.

Pressure is building on other fronts as well, as economists say that China’s aging population and dwindling pool of young, cheap labour will slow the nation’s economic growth rate.

“An aging working population is resulting in a labour shortage, a less innovative and less energetic economy, and a more difficult path to industrial upgrading,” said He Yafu, a demographics analyst.

Beyond debate about the law itself, critics say that enforcement of the one-child policy leads to widespread abuses, because many local governments reward or penalise officials based on how well they keep down the population.

The New York Times says the talk on Chinese microblogs and articles in state-run newspapers on forced-abortion cases suggest that the one-child policy is being questioned more widely than in recent years.

Last month it was sharply criticised by scholars and policy advisers at a forum at Peking University co-organised by the National Bureau of Statistics to discuss the results of the 2010 census.

Scholars at the meeting were outraged by the plight of Feng Jianmei, who was forced to have a late-term abortion in early June. Her case became widely known after photographs of her dead seven-month-old unborn child were posted on the Internet.

“I think the right to have children is the right of a citizen,” said Zhan Zhongle, a law professor at Peking University who has sent a petition signed by scholars and business executives to the National People’s Congress urging its members to repeal the one-child law.

China’s population of 1.3 billion is the world’s largest.


New York Times

Image: Made in China

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