Friday the 15th of November probably doesn’t mean very much to you. However, for many Chinese children, even if they don’t know it yet, this date marks a great change. As part of a series of reforms, the Chinese government has decided to relax its one child policy.
The one child policy
Introduced in 1979 and still in place today, the one child policy forbids all Chinese couples from having more than child. The policy’s aim was to slow down the country’s massive population increase, since China’s population is the fastest growing in the world, and indeed, according to many predictions, such continued growth could prevent economic development.
The policy drastically reduced parents’ fundamental right to create life and was the root of many highly unethical practices. For example, lots of women were forcibly sterilised, others were forced to have abortions because they already had a child, and some families even received monetary fines from the state.
However, the Chinese authorities sounded the alarm on the many problems the policy was creating, such as a massive gender imbalance and a rapidly aging population.
There is a simple explanation for the gender imbalance: women who would prefer a male child frequently choose to abort female foetuses. However, even if the Chinese craze for boys is an age old tradition, it must be remembered that the supposedly stronger sex can’t cope alone: despite being the most populated country in the world with some 1.34 billion inhabitants, the number of people of working age has greatly decreased in recent years. Policies limiting population growth mean that old and retiring workers aren’t replaced by young workers as quickly as they need to be.
The one child policy in China has not been abolished; it has been relaxed. The problems surrounding the policy have not been fully resolved, but a step has been taken in the right direction. For the time being it is best to hope that the road towards the complete abolition of the policy isn’t too long and winding – and not too bumpy either.