Chinese think tank calls for end to one-child policy

A think tank close to China’s leadership is recommending an end to the country’s one-child policy — for political and economic reasons rather than on human rights grounds.

The China Development Research Foundation proposes allowing two children for every family in some provinces from this year and nationally by 2015, and dropping all birth limits by 2020.

The Associated Press reports that some demographers see this timeline as a bold move by an organisation close to the central leadership, while others warn that the gradual approach suggested would still be insufficient to help correct the problems created by the one-child policy.

“China has paid a huge political and social cost for the policy, as it has resulted in social conflict, high administrative costs and led indirectly to a long-term gender imbalance at birth,” the foundation said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

The one-child policy has been in place since 1979.

Cai Yong, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States, told the Associated Press that the report carried extra weight because the think tank was under the State Council, China’s Cabinet.

He said he found it remarkable that state-backed demographers were willing to publicly propose such a detailed schedule and plan on how to get rid of China’s birth limits.

“That tells us at least that policy change is inevitable, it’s coming,” said Cai, who was not involved in the drafting of the report but knows many of the experts who were.

Wang Feng, director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy and an expert on China’s demographics, contributed research material to the foundation’s report but has yet to see the full text. He said he welcomed the gist of the document that he’s seen in state media.

It says the government “should return the rights of reproduction to the people”, he said. “That’s very bold.”

Associated Press

Image: Allianz Wissen


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