Tuesday, May 17, 2011

China: Family Planning Policy

One Child Policy

Aka "One Child Policy"

How good does "One Child Policy" sound in a headline? Much better than "Family Planning Policy". Much more sinister don't you think?

Well western media has been touting around the "One Child Policy" headline this week with regards to reports out of China that authorities have busted a child trafficking ring made up of low level government officials.

Using their positions they have gained access to unwanted children or have bullied couples into giving up their children, all under the auspices of the "One Child Policy".

Western media have used, once again, the "One Child Policy" bogeyman to get a little bit of extra attention to a news item.

I obviously have no problems with the media highlighting child trafficking, whenever and wherever it happens. It is a disgraceful, world wide problem, that needs government and media attention to stamp it completely and utterly out.

What I do have a problem with is that highly respected media outlets after all this time, since the Population Policy was promulgated, allow this misrepresentation for the sake of  sensationalism.

Let's have a look at some aspects of China's Family Planning Policy (aka in the west "One Child Policy)

  • Only 39% of China's population is affected under this policy. Ethnic minorities, such as the Uyghur people of Xinjiang, are exempted. So are rural populations. As well there are many other exemptions such as where a first child is born with significant disabilities.
  • You can have as many children as you like in China. You are only disincentivised against it through fines, loss of education, medical and welfare privileges for subsequent children. If you got enough money have ten.
  • China has several districts where it is trialing a policy promoting only two children families. Significantly these areas show the same fertility rates or less than the others.
  • According to one survey 76% of Chinese support having only one child.
  • It has been said that the policy has brought about some two to three hundred million less births since it's implementation. It has been argued, however, that this is just as much the result of a burgeoning and aspirational middle class more interested in spending it's money on homes, cars and consumer goods.
Family Planning Policy in China was put in place with some very clear objectives namely:
  1. Reduce demand on natural resources
  2. Steady the labour rate
  3. Reduce unemployment
  4. Reduce labour exploitation
  5. And, in achieving the above, maintain social stability.
To these ends the policy has been a success without a terrible lot of social upheaval.

Of course there have been instances of officials abuse of the intent of the policy. Has there been forced abortions? I would say yes. Child trafficking? Yes. Forced sterilisations? Again yes.But these have been at a very lower government level by corrupt or over zealous party officials looking to impress the "Higher Ups".

With China's Population Policy are we witnessing a Human Rights Violation? I do not think so. So let the western media stop sensationalising the issue. Report on abuse yes, but do it in a constructive way to provide encouragement for China to address any problems that implementation of the policy throws up.

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