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  1. 1. Facts and DetailsSearchGlobal Top > China > 01Population...ONE-CHILD POLICY IN CHINA1. ONE-CHILD POLICY IN CHINA2. Success of the One-Child Policy in China3. Bureaucracy and Population Control in China4. Family Planning Officials5. Rewards for One Child and Punishments for Extra Children6. Problems with the One-Child Policy7. Undocumented Children in China8. Skirting the One Child Policy9. Kidnapped Children and the One Child Policy10.Victims of Kidnapped Children and the One Child Policy11.Abandoned Children or Kidnapped Children?12.Riots Against the One-Child Policy13.People Allowed to Have Additional Children14.Easing the One-Child Policy in China15.Ending the One Child Policy in Shanghai16.Two-Child Policy?17.Maintaining One-Child Policy in ChinaONE-CHILD POLICY IN CHINAIn 1979, three years after Mao‟s death, a one-child policy was introduced to reduceChina‟s burgeoning population. According to the policy as it was most commonlyenforced, a couple was allowed to have one child. If that child turned out be a girl, theywere allowed to have a second child. After the second child, they were not allowed tohave any more children. In some places though couples were only allowed to have onechild regardless of whether it is a boy or a girl. This policy is still in effect today.Posters promoting Chinas one-child policy can be seen all over China. One, with theslogan "China Needs Family Planning" shows a Communist official praising the proudparents of one baby girl. Another one, with the slogan "Late Marriage and Childbirth AreWorthy," shows an old gray-haired woman with a newborn baby. Another reads: “HaveFewer, Better Children to Create Prosperity for the Next Generation.”Slogans such as “Have Fewer Children Live Better Lives”, "Stabilize Family Planningand Create a Brighter Future” are painted on roadside buildings in rural areas. Somecrude family planning slogans such “Raise Fewer Babies, But More Piggies” and “OneMore Baby Means One More Tomb” and "If you give birth to extra children, your familywill be ruined" were banned in August 2007 because of rural anger about the slogansand the policy behind them.The conventional wisdom in China has been that controlling Chinas population servesthe interest of the whole society and that sacrificing individual interests for those of themasses is justifiable. The one-child policy was introduced around the same time as theDeng economic reforms. An unexpected result of these reforms has been the creationof demand for more children to isupply labor to increase food production and makemore profit.
  2. 2. Good Websites and Sources: Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Family Planning inChinachina.org.cn ; New England Journal of Medicine article nejm.org ; One Child policyarticlesharker.org Links in this Website: POPULATION INCHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; BIRTH CONTROL INCHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; PREFERENCE FORBOYSFactsanddetails.com/China ; THE BRIDE SHORTAGE INCHINA Factsanddetails.com/ChinaSuccess of the One-Child Policy in ChinaThe one-child policy has been spectacularly successful in reducing population growth,particularly in the cities (reliable figures are harder to come by in the countryside).In 1970 the average woman in China had almost six (5.8) children, now shehas about two. The most dramatic changes took place between 1970 and 1980when the birthrate dropped from 44 per 1000 to 18 per 1,000. Demographershave stated that the ideal birthrate for China is 16.7 per 1,000, or 1.7 childrenper family.One way the government records progress in its birth control programs is bymonitoring the "first baby" rate—the proportion of first babies among total births. Inthe city of Chengdu in Sichuan for a while the first baby rate was reportedly 97 percent.One Chinese official said the one-child policy has prevented 300 million births, theequivalent of the population of Europe. The reduction of population has helped pullpeople out of poverty and been a factor in China‟s phenomenal economic growth.Some argue that economic prosperity has done as much as the one-child policy toshrink population growth. As costs and the expense of having children in urban areasrise, and the benefits of children as labor sources shrink many couples opt not to havechildren. Susan Greenhalgh, a China policy expert at the University of California inIrvine, told Reuters, “Rapid socioeconomic development has largely taken care of theproblem of rapid population.”Bureaucracy and Population Control in ChinaThe Family Planning Association, the bureaucracy that monitors the child bearinghabits of the Chinese masses, is comprised of 300,000 full-time paid family-planningworkers and 80 million volunteers, who are notorious for being nosey, intrusive andusing social pressure to meet its goals and quotas. Chinese women have to obtain apermit to have a child. If a woman is pregnant and she already has children she is oftenpressured into having an abortion. Special bonuses are given to men and women thathave their tubes tied. Local officials are often evaluated in how well they meet theirpopulation quotas.At the bottom of the bureaucracy are millions of neighborhood committees which haveto answer to the next level up, the street or village committees. In the cities, severalstreet committees make up a district committee which in turn is under the jurisdictionof the Municipal Peoples government or the Regional Peoples government. All of thesecommittees follow birth control guidelines laid out by the Central Chinese government.If neighborhood, street or village committees are unsuccessful in dissuading a couplefrom having a child, community "units" at the husbands and wifes work place are
  3. 3. called in to pressure the couple, sometimes by reducing wages, taking away bonuses orthreatening unemployment. Community units are also called in if a couple is thinkingabout getting divorced.Family Planning OfficialsThe officials who work in the local family offices are often members of the CommunistParty. They have broad powers to order abortions and sterilizations and impose heavyfines euphemistically called “social service expenditures,” which are often importantsources of income for local governments in rural areas.Couples are supposed to get a permit before they even conceive a child. To be eligiblecouples must have a marriage certificates and have their residency permits in order.Women must be at least 20 and men 24.Old legal scholar in Beijing told the Los Angeles Times, “the family planning people areeven more powerful than the Ministry of Public Security.”Villagers who can‟t pay the fines complain that family planning officials confiscate theirpigs and cattle and ransack their homes and even seize their children. Sometimesofficials make regular visits looking for illegal children. “We were always terrified ofthem,” one villager told the Los Angeles Times.Rewards for One Child and Punishments for Extra ChildrenParents who have only one child get a "one-child glory certificate," which entitlesthem to economic benefits such as an extra months salary every year until the child is14. Among the other benefits for one child families are higher wages, interest-freeloans, retirement funds, cheap fertilizer, better housing, better health care, and priorityin school enrollment. Women who delay marriage until after they are 25 receivebenefits such as an extended maternity leave when they finally get pregnant. Theseprivileges are taken away if the couple decides to have an extra child. Promises for newhousing often are not kept because of housing shortages.The one-child program theoretically is voluntary, but the government imposespunishments and heavy fines on people who dont follow the rules. Parents with extrachildren can be fined, depending on the region, from $370 to $12,800 (many times theaverage annual income for many ordinary Chinese). If the fine is not paid sometimesthe couples land is taken away, their house is destroyed, they lose their jobs or thechild is not allowed to attend school.Sometimes the punishments seem more than a little over the top. In the 1980s awoman from Shanghai named Mao Hengfeng, who got pregnant with her second child,was fired from her job, forced to undergo an abortion and was sent to a psychiatrichospital and was still in a labor camp the early 2000s, There were reports that she hadbeen tortured.Into the mid 2000s, authorities in Shandong raided the homes of families with extrachildren, demanding that parents with second children get sterilized and womenpregnant with their third children get abortions. If a family tried to hide their relativeswere thrown in jail until the escapees surrendered. One woman who said she hadpermission for a second child told the Washington Post she was hustled into a white
  4. 4. van, taken to clinic, physically forced to sign a form and was given a sterilizationoperation that took only 10 minutes.Another woman told the Washington Post several of her relatives were thrown in jailwhen she was seven months pregnant and were denied food and threatened withtorture and told they wouldn‟t be released until the woman had an abortion. After sheturned herself in, a doctor inserted a needle into her uterus. Twenty-four hours latershe delivered a dead fetus. Another woman was forced to undergo a botchedsterilization that left her with difficulty walking.Even high level officials are not immune from the policies. In April 2007, a CommunistParty official in Yulin in Shanxi was fired for having too many children—three daughterswith his wife and a son and daughter with his mistress.Some parents who broke the one child policy have were required to pay their fine withgrain: 200 kilograms of unmilled riceProblems with the One-Child PolicyThe one-child policy clashes with local traditions. One farmer in Guangxi told the NewYork Times, “Last year, I had a son, so now we can‟t have any more. But the traditionhere is big families and lots of sons. So no one is very happy.” In Guanxi friction overthe one child policy has resulted in violence. Newspaper has reported several clashesbetween peasants and family planning officials.As the government has taken rice bowl benefits away from people, children are theonly safety net they have.Files are kept on every woman of child-bearing age by the local councils, who areassisted by networks of informants. Women who have children without permission—andare found out—are often forced to have abortions or sterilizations. If they refuse tocooperate, thugs are sometimes sent to destroy their houses or beat them up. If theyrun away sometimes their parents or relatives are imprisoned.In some cases the basis for raises and promotions of local officials is based on howwell they meet their population targets. This policy encourages officials to push forcedsterilizations and forced abortion and mete out tough punishments to meet theirquotas. In some places enforcement has been so harsh that the Family PlanningAssociation has had to give out brochure that list the "seven dont" of population policy(dont beat up people who have an unplanned birth; dont burn their house down, etc.)Birth control policies vary a great deal from place and place, and the way the policycarried out can be quite arbitrary. When a peasant woman in Guizhou got pregnant witha third child, according to one report, the local authorities took her cow. When shebowed to pressure and had an abortion, she was charged half a years income to gether cow back.Enforcement of one-child policies also varies greatly from place to place. InGuangdong Province many families have four or five children. They can get away with itbecause either the one-child policy is ignored of they can raise the money to pay themodest fines. In Guangxi, the policy is more strictly enforced. Family planning boardskeep strict tabs on families. Rule bending is minmal. Families fear the consequences of
  5. 5. breaking the rules because they are poor and have a hard time coming up with moneyfor the fines.Undocumented Children in ChinaAdditional children born to parents that have reached their one-child limit often havea rough ride. Some are denied a birth certificate and proper documentation. This affectsthem for the rest of their life. Without proper papers these children cannot enter school,find work as adults or do most of anything legally.Parents involved in illegal political or religious activities are sometimes punished bydenying their children birth certificates and documentation, even if they have only onechild.Many parents with more than two children don‟t declare all their children. A mother ofthree in a suburb of Beijing told the Independent she only declared her oldest child. "IfI tell them the truth, are they going to reward me with a bonus?" she said. "Why invitetrouble.”Undocumented children (also called "black permit" children) are children who are bornand raised in secret and never registered with the government. To avoid detection bythe Family Planning Association the children are shuffled around among uncles, auntsand siblings. Pregnant women who chose to hide in the countryside until they give birthare sometimes called "birth guerrillas."According to some estimated there are 6 million undocumented children in China.Most of them are believed to be girls. Many are the third of three daughters, who aresometimes referred to as "excess" children, and are secretly shuffled off to relatives.Skirting the One Child PolicyFamilies in rural areas, where children are needed to work family farms, are morelikely to break family planning rules than urban families. Migrants to the cities are 13times more likely to break family planning rules than urban residents.To get around the one child policy, parents give birth abroad or pretend their firstchild is handicapped (loopholes allow them to have another legally) or get divorced andremarried. One entrepreneur had three successive “wives” in order to have morechildren.Some parents bribe doctors to document a second child as a twin to the first eventhough the second child was born years after the first one. There are stories abouttwins who were born 10 years apart. The practice is so common in the Guangzhou areathat pregnant women are asked, “Is it you are first child or are you having twins?”Others get approval for a “second first child” by giving birth in a hospital that has norecord of their first child. Others “park” second children with childless relatives orfriends.Extra children are often tolerated and documented as long as parents pay the fine,which has become viewed more as a fee than a fine. Depending on the place and thesituation the fine can vary between $370 and $12,800. One man who raised $1,200from his family to pay teh fine for his second child told the New York Times, the
  6. 6. authorities "didnt try to talk us out of it. They just wanted to be sure we would pay thefine."While the rules remained strictly enforced in large cities like Shanghai and Beijing, therules were eased in medium-size cities and towns. By the mid 2000s, so many childrenhad been born outside the rules, only one child in five was an only child.Kidnapped Children and the One Child PolicySome of the children that end up in orphanages are believed to have been seized byfamily planning officials and sold to orphanages, who in turn sell the babies to adoptingparents, many from the United States, for around $3,000 in $100 bills. [Source:Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, September 28. 2009]A migrant worker from Hunan Province whose daughter taken in 2005 and later foundto be living in the United States said, “Our children were exported abroad like they werefactory products.” Orphanages that receive the money say the money goes for food,clothing, medicine and building upkeep but in most cases the babies are taken by fosterparents who receive $30 month and the orphanages are grim places that look as if littlemoney has been spent on them or their occupants.Family planning officials may be able to impose fines and force abortions but theydon‟t have the right to seize children even though they tell villagers they do have theright and villagers believe them. In some cases the officials trick barely literate villagersinto signing paperwork that hands over their children to orphanages. In other casesofficials switched from seizing animals to seizing babies after they became aware thatorphanages sold babies to adopting parents for $3,000.The remote village of Tianxi in undeveloped Guizhou Province has been a target forfamily planning officials in search of children, There officials often showed up at leastonce a week—even though reaching the villages require a two hour trip on difficultmountains road and a hike into the mountains—keeping an ear out for crying babiesand looking for diapers on cloth lines and other evidence of babies.Victims of Kidnapped Children and the One Child PolicyThe mother of a four-month-old girl in Tianxi told the Los Angeles Times that one dayin 2004 an official showed up at her doorstep, demanding that she “bring out thebaby.” The woman was alone and unable to resist. As he walked to his car with babythe official told her, “I‟m going to sell the baby for foreign adoption. I can get a lot ofmoney for her.” In return he told her the family wouldn‟t have to pay any fines forbreaking the one child policy but warned her: “Don‟t tell anyone.”The grandmother of a four-month-old girl who was taken in 2003 in Huangxin villagein Hunan Province by a dozen officer who raided her house told the Los Angeles Times,“they grabbed the baby and dragged me out of the house. I was screaming—I thoughtthey were going to knock me over.”A construction worker told the Los Angeles Times he knew his six-month-old daughterwas taken to the Changsha Social Welfare Institute in Hunan Province. “They wouldn‟teven let me in the door,” he said, For three year he tried to get in. Finally one day hetold him, “It‟s too late. Your daughter has already gone to America.”
  7. 7. The Tianxi cases were revealed by a teacher with relatives in Tianxi, He reported theseizing of babies to the police and a disciplinary agency, When he got no response heposted complaints on the Internet that were picked up by the national media.Afterwards the teacher went into hiding out of fear of retaliation. The officials werebased in the town of Zhenyuan, where orphanages had sent 60 children to the UnitedStates. The U.S. Embassy reported that the implicated officials were arrested but theofficials involved told the Los Angeles Times no one was arrested or fired.Other cases of child seizure have been reported in the village of Gaoping in HunanProvince by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post. Some of officials therewere relocated but none were arrested. None of the 15 sets of parents that lost babiesgot their children back. In some cases the victims have been migrant workers with onlyone child whose residency permits were not in order. One such worker described by theLos Angeles Times had his only child taken by men who raided his house when the childwas being taken care of by grandparents.Abandoned Children or Kidnapped Children?The practice of child seizure has raised questions about whether the children inorphanages said to have been abandoned were really taken by authorities. Among theflags that something is not right are the fact that parents were said to have given uptheir children after taking long trek through the mountains in the winter and the factthat the suspicious children tend to be several month old. Brian Stuy, and Americanman researching the origin of adopted Chinese children, told the Los Angeles Times, “Ifyou don‟t want a girl, you give her up as soon as she is born.”Ina Hut, the head of a Dutch adoption agency, told the Los Angeles Times, “In thebeginning, I think adoption from China was a very good thing because there were somany abandoned girls. But then it became a supply-and-demand-driven market and alot of people at the local level were making too much money.”Stuy told the Los Angeles Times, “International adoption is creating the suction thatcauses family planning to take the kids to make money. If there was no internationaladoption and the state had to raise the kids until they turned 18, you would be surefamily planning would not confiscate them.” People familiar with the issue say the bestway to clampdown on the practice is to scrutinize where the money from the adoptedparents goes.One woman who had her baby seized and found out she was in America told the LosAngeles Times, “Everybody in the village adored her. She had big eyes like saucers anda smile for everybody she saw. I think of her all the time. I wonder if she looks like anAmerican now.” Like others in her situation she realized it would be next to impossiblefor her Americanized daughter to come back and live with her in a poor Chinese villagebut she said she would like to know how her daughter was doing and maybe get apicture. “We‟d like to know where she is...And we‟d like her to know that we miss herand that we didn‟t throw her away.”Riots Against the One-Child PolicyIn May 2007, riots broke out in Bobai and Shabei counties in an “:autonomous” regionof Guangxi over attempt to enforce strict family-planning policies. Villagers protestingheavy fines for having extra children burned cars, damaged buildings and fought with
  8. 8. police armed with guns and cattle prods. Between 300 and 3,000 people participated indemonstrations and attacks against government offices in four townships. Twenty-eightpeople were detainedThe riots were prompted by a campaign by government work teams who went fromtown to town and village to village fining anyone believed to have violated the one childpolicy. Tension did not abate until officials retreated and admitted possible wrongdoing.Members of the government work teams carried cattle prods and sledge hammers andimposes heavy fines on the spot and looted and ransacked home of people that couldnot pay and seized their farm tools, furniture and other valuables, even taking thewindows and doors off their homes. In some cases men and women of childbearing agewere forced to undergo forced sterilizations and pregnant women that already hadchildren were forced to have abortions.Reuters interviewed one Bobai farmer who had six children with two wives hadthought he was off the hook when he paid 2,000 yuan ($260) in fines to his townshipsgovernment in 2004. He was shocked was given a one-page notice that he owed$15,500 —45 times the region‟s annual income—in fines. “I already cleared this bypaying 2,000,‟ he said. “„I told them „This government now wants 120,000 from me.Where am I supposed to get it?People Allowed to Have Additional Children in ChinaIn 17 provinces, rural couples are allowed to have a second child if their first is a girl.In the wealthy southern provinces of Guangdong and Hainan, rural couples are allowedtwo children regardless of the sex of the first. Minority groups such as Tibetans, Miaoand Mongols are generally permitted to have three children if their first two are girls.Urban couples, who are generally satisfied with small families, are generally restrictedto one child. Officials softened the one child policy in rural area where children areneeded in the fields and infanticide appears widespread as a result of the preference forboys.In the Yunnan, where many minorities live, the birth rate was 17 per 1,000 residents,compared to four per 1,000 in Shanghai and five Beijing, and 12 for the country as awhole. So many children are being born in Yunnan that the government is offering cashfor school tuition and higher pensions to those who stick with the one child policy.Parents of a child certified by a doctor as handicapped and couples with bothmembers from single-child homes are also allowed to have an additional child. Aschildren of single-child grow up they will be allowed to have more children.Urban parents are permitted to have two children if the husband and wife were onlychildren.The number of marriages made up of only children is increasing but many arenot taking up the option of having a second child. One Beijing couple with a two-year-old son told the Times of London, “It cost more than 35,000 yuan ($5,125) a year justto leave our baby in a kindergarten. Why spend this amount of money on a second?”Easing the One-Child Policy in ChinaIn the mid-1980s a rumor that the Chinese government was going to change its onechild policy caused the birthrate to skyrocket.
  9. 9. By the late 1990s the draconian aspects of the one-child policy had largely ended.Second children were no longer banned from hospitals and schools. Reports of forcedabortions, infanticide and forced sterilization which much fewer in number. Thegovernment took a softer approach to convincing women to have one child: expandinghealth services, offering a choice of contraceptives. The unstated rule was that coupleshave two chances to get a son and third chance can be obtained by paying a bribe or afine.In the early 2000s, couple with extra children was no longer forced to pay “fines”:they paid “social compensation fees.” Forced sterilizations and abortions were banned.In Shanghai, 11exemptions were added to the one-child policy, including easy approvalfor a second child and removal of long waiting periods and financial rewards for havingone child. In some places rules have been changed to make it easier for marriedcouples to have children. In other places the penalties having second children havebeen sharply reduced. The introduction of private schools has made rules preventingsecond children from obtaining places in school no longer such a dire threat.By the mid 2000s many upper class and nouveau riche families were routinely havingtwo or even three children. The trend verged on becoming a fashion as a number ofcelebrities were photographed with two or three children. Even fines of $65,000 forextra children that exist in some cities are no problem for parents with lots of cash.There has been some discussion of publically shaming and creating “bad credit” filesfor rich and famous people who mock the one-child policy. One multimillionairebusinessman in Beijing, with three children, said hewasmt worried about such threats.He told the Times of London: “I have plenty of money, and if I want to spend thatmoney on having more children I can afford to.”A trend in rural areas is also producing more children. As farmers make more moneythey are marrying sooner and producing more children and giving birth to moredaughters as the try to harder to have sons.In December 2008, China announced it would raise the payments to one-child familiesin rural areas to $105 a year for $84 a year. The payments are given to parents whoreach the age of 60 with either only one child or two daughters.Ending the One Child Policy in ShanghaiBeginning in 2009, eligible couples in Shanghai were encouraged to have two childrenin part to address concerns about taking care of an aging population. In Shanghai,people over 60 already make 21.6 percent of the population, and are expected to makeup 34 percent in 2020, while the birthrate is less than one child per couple.In Shanghai, one-child policy posters were torn down and replaced with details aboutthe new regulations and how to apply for permits. XieLinli, director of ShanghaiPopulation and Family Planning Commission, said, “We advocate eligible couples tohave two kids because it can help reduce the proportion of the ageing people andalleviate the workforce shortage in the future.The response has been very disappointing. Few people have registered for theprogram and few additional babies have been born. Officials in Shanghai told the
  10. 10. Washington Post they think that financial considerations are probably the main reasoncouples don‟t want more children.Many attribute the lack of interest in having additional children to selfishness. Ahuman resources manager and single child told the Washington Post, “We were at thecenter of our families and used to everyone taking care of us. We are not used to takingcare of others and don‟t really want to take care of others.” The owner of a translationcompany said, “Ours is the first generation with higher living standards. We do notwant to make too many sacrifices.”Two-Child Policy?By the mid 2000s, most couples were eligible to have two children, either becausethey lived in rural areas or were offspring from single-child homes. There wasdiscussion of moving towards a two-child policy, seen by many as a sign that theChinese were worrying more about the consequences of too few births than too manybirths.There were concerns that Chinese parents had become happy with the one-childpolicy and didn‟t want to have extra children. A survey in Shanghai in 2004, found that80 percent of the young people interviewed preferred to have just one child and 5percent didn‟t want any children at all. A 30-year-old editor told the Los Angeles Times,that she didn‟t want to have any children because wanted to focus on her career andenjoy her free time. “Of course I may feel lonely when I‟m old and be envious of peoplewith children. But I will have earned much more happiness when I was young.”Maintaining One-Child Policy in ChinaIn December 2006, the Chinese government said it had no plans to change its one-child policy. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said that keeping the policy intact was critical toChina‟s modernization plans and improving the lives of people living in the countryside.In April 2007, the government said it would not loosen the one-child policy despite theproblem of too many baby boys and not enough girls.The one-child policy is still taken very seriously. In January 2008, 500 CommunistParty members were expelled from the party for violating the one-child policy. Theofficials came from Hubei Province, where 93,000 people, including hundreds oflawmakers and officials, were recorded as violating the policy.In March 2008, China‟s top population official—Zhang Weiqing, minister of theNational Population and Family Planning Commission—said the one-child policy willremain in place at least until 2018. In a front page article in the People‟s Daily he wasquoted as saying, “The current family planning policy, a result of gradual changes in thepast two decades, has proved compatible with national conditions. So it has to be keptunchanged at this time to ensure stable and balanced population growth...Given such alarge population base, there might be major fluctuations in population growth if weabandoned the one-child policy now and it would cause serious problems and add extrapressure in social and economic development.” There had been some speculation thepolicy might be relaxed because of demographic pressures such as labor shortages anda graying population increasingly becoming a burden for the labor force.
  11. 11. Image Sources: LandsbergerPosters http://www.iisg.nl/~landsberger/ Beifanhttp://www.beifan.com/Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London,National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely PlanetGuides, Compton‟s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.Page Top© 2008 Jeffrey HaysLast updated April 2010Questions or comments, e-mail ajhays98@yahoo.com | About This Project | Support andDonationshttp://factsanddetails.com/china.php?itemid=128&catid=4&subcatid=15