In 2015, China announced the end of the brutal regime of the “one-child policy.” Now, the country is giving some families the legal option to have a third child. For decades, the state-mandated family planning required families to limit the number of children they had. The recent relaxation of the inhumane system is not so much an indication that the government has become more humane but that the population crisis facing China is more acute than policymakers realized before now.
Over the decades of China’s infamous “One-Child Policy,” there were still families who had more than one child. However, people who had more children faced severe penalties or forced abortion. Civil servants faced especially harsh consequences, including losing their jobs if they had children not deemed acceptable by the government. Through the Family Planning Bureau, the anti-Life Chinese Communist Party controlled who was allowed to have children.
The recent allowance for a third child for some families stems from growing concern about the demographic winter looming for China and much of the world. According to state media, “To actively respond to the aging of the population, a couple is permitted to have three children.” The Communist Party introduced the one-child policy in 1980 to curb explosive population growth. Now, experts point out, the bureaucrats are finding that their plan to prevent population growth has been too effective. With few babies and a rapidly aging population, the Chinese economy faces serious challenges.
Top officials have known this crisis was coming. The demographic implosion is likely one of the key reasons for shifting to the two-child policy five years ago. The results of that change, however, have not been as helpful as Chinese authorities likely hoped. Although there was an initial increase in the number of babies born, the number has shrunk each year since. The Wall Street Journal reports, “In 2016, the first year of the two-child policy, births rose, but every year since has seen a drop. In 2020, there were around 12 million births, compared with 14.65 million the year before and 17.86 million in 2016.”
Now, the Chinese fertility rate is reported to be 1.3 children per woman, which is well below the 2.1 children per woman necessary for a nation to maintain population levels. Sources suggest the actual numbers may be significantly lower. The recent change in the “allowed” number of children is unlikely to affect the fertility rate significantly. After two generations of the one-child policy, the Communist Party has formed a society in which one child is the norm. Many parents do not want or think they cannot afford two, let alone three, children.
Additionally, the years of forced abortions and sterilizations in a culture with a strong preference for male children has led to a culture of destruction and abandonment for baby girls. Sex selective abortions targeting girls have caused an imbalanced culture. Men now outnumber women in China and generations have been traumatized by the violent destruction of babies who were killed or discarded simply because they were girls.
The Communist Party leaders are also only interested in expanding the ethnic groups in favor. While trying to combat a population on the brink of catastrophic decline, the same Chinese Communist Party is accused of continuing forced abortion and sterilization in some provinces with populations the government deems undesirable. The Uighur population in China has faced what has been described as “demographic genocide” as the government has systematically detained and sterilized members of the group who are viewed as having too many children. A disturbing report about the practices of the Communist Party in the Xinjiang Province stated, “The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands.”
While the Chinese Communist Party tries to convince families to have more children, the unjust and anti-Life practices persist. In such an environment, some human rights groups are warning that if the people the government wants to have children do not have enough, forced pregnancy may be next.