China Birth Rate Panic: ‘Simply Allowing a Couple to Have a Second Child’ Not Enough

HUAINAN, CHINA - OCTOBER 01: Nurses take care of babies who were born on the National Day on October 1, 2017 in Huainan, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
VCG/VCG via Getty Images

The state-run propaganda outlet China Daily noted on Friday the growing concern among Chinese Communist Party officials that the national birth rate continued to decline for at least two years despite Beijing allowing couples to have more children.

For decades, the Party implemented the “one-child policy,” which banned multiple children from one couple. The policy resulted in mass abortions and killings of infant girls – families preferred sons – which is now intensifying the population decline, as there are not enough women of child-bearing age to maintain the population. Ethnic minorities are not subject to the one-child policies, but widespread evidence suggests a campaign in western Xinjiang, where most of the ethnic Uyghur population lives, to forcibly sterilize women to stop the population from growing.

Dictator Xi Jinping expanded the “one-child policy” for Han Chinese to two children in 2015, but this has not resulted in a halt of the population decline. The Party’s Civil Affairs Minister Li Jiheng warned this week that 2020 childbirth trends suggested that the country’s population will reach a peak, meaning that the population will begin to decline, in 2028, two years earlier than prior estimates.

In 2019, the birth rate declined to a number unseen since 1961. At the end of that year, a state scientist lamented that even the official number was too high, and that officials had “severely overestimated” how many Chinese citizens would want to expand their families under a two-child policy.

This year, given brutal lockdown measures including reports of Party officials welding families shut in their homes to prevent the spread of Chinese coronavirus, that birth rate is expected to have declined significantly.

China Daily noted ominously, “simply allowing a couple to have a second child does not mean they will have one, as the costs of raising children, escalating housing prices and mounting career pressures on women dampen couples’ desire to have more children.” The newspaper did not explicitly suggest government policies that would mandate childbirth, but did warn, “the trends are irreversible.”

“The development will have wide social and economic implications. For instance, if the country’s labor productivity has not reached a certain level, the decrease in working-age population means the decline of national wealth,” the propaganda outlet explained. “On the other hand, the increase in the elderly population will raise the burden on the economy and society. In fact, some provinces are already struggling to meet the pension demands.”

To the extent that it offered advice, the China Daily column urged “inputs in education, medical care, public housing and other sectors to improve people’s livelihoods, reduce people’s living costs and raise labor productivity.” Doing so, it implied, would make couples more comfortable with the idea of having more children.

The Global Times, another Chinese government outlet that has in the past called for the removal of the two-child policy and full permissions for Chinese citizens to have large families, again cited “demographers” this week pressuring the regime to consider policies to aggressively make more people.

“Demographers called on China to immediately abandon restrictions on having babies, be more tolerant toward babies born out of wedlock, and do more to lower the costs of raising and educating children,” the Times reported on Tuesday.

One of those demographers speaking to the newspaper noted that the civil affairs minister’s warning also came with the news that the birth rate had fallen below 1.5 children per couple, a “warning line” after which the population would no longer grow.

“Once it slips below 1.5, a country falls into the trap of low fertility and is unlikely to recover,” the alleged experts said.

The Global Times noted that, in addition to imposing the two-child policy for married couples, Chinese law is extremely strict in punishing couples who have children out of wedlock. Children unregistered into the Communist Party system, either because they were born out of an “illegal” couple or they were the third or later for a couple already reaching their legal child quota, are typically known in the country as “black” children because they live in the shadows. They do not have legal rights to education, health care, or other offerings that the Communist Party promises its people. Without a birth certificate, they have no legal identification, so they cannot properly function in the economy or acquire legal employment.

The Communist Party never addressed the status of “black” children who were the second of their parents’ family, which couples were now allowed to have in 2015.

Chinese families experienced decades of extreme trauma under the one-child policy. The Communist Party actively killed “illegal” children for many years and sterilized an unknown number of people.

“Families and relatives of couples who had ‘over-birthed’ were detained and tortured,” Chen Guangcheng, a human rights advocate known as the “barefoot lawyer” for advocating for mothers abused by the regime, explained in remarks this year. “Babies were aborted at all stages of pregnancy, even at full term. If they were born alive, they would have their necks broken.”

“Women were being dragged from their homes in the middle of the night. Shoved in vans, taken to clinics or hospitals to have their babies aborted, or to be sterilized. Men were also forcefully sterilized,” he explained.

The Chinese Communist regime compiled a death toll of children killed by the “one-child policy” upon announcing its end in 2015: 400 million “prevented births.”

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