In a measure aimed at addressing the population crisis in China, the Communist Party announced this week that effective immediately, official approval of first and second children for qualified couples will no longer be required under its new two-child policy.
It became legal for all Chinese couples to have up to two children as of January 1, but this week’s announcement eases the process considerably since birth permits were often difficult to obtain and sometimes took months.
Motivated by self-interest rather than concern for the rights of citizens, the move, nonetheless, bodes well for Chinese families, and officials are predicting a “birth rush” with up to half-a-million extra births in the next few years, thanks to the new policy.
China’s birthrate has fallen drastically in recent decades, with a national average of just 1.2 children per woman, significantly beneath the replacement level of 2.1. Thirty-seven years of a brutally enforced one-child per family policy have wreaked a demographic disaster that some claim may be irrecoverable.
“Even if the family-planning policy were terminated today,” said Chinese author and researcher Yi Fuxian, “it would be too late to solve our rapidly ageing population, the drastic shrinkage of the labour force and the gaping hole in social-security funds that the country has already begun struggling with.”
Moreover, despite the positive elements of China’s new decision, deep concerns persist among China watchers and human rights advocates.
The English language announcement by the Chinese Communist Party-controlled media “omits important language that births not allowed by the two-child policy will be ‘punished,’” prominent women’s rights activist Reggie Littlejohn told Breitbart News Friday.
Ms. Littlejohn, president and founder of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, noted that it is “still illegal in China for a single woman to give birth, and such mothers will continue to face forced abortion.”
“Third children will continue to be aborted. Family Planning Police will continue closely to monitor the fertility of women. There is no promise that forced sterilizations after the second child – even a legal second child – will cease,” Littlejohn said.
An English translation of the ruling abolishing birth permits says explicitly that the government “will punish the birth of additional children outside of what is allowed in the Policy.”
“The Chinese Communist Party has not agreed to get out of the bedrooms of the Chinese people,” Littlejohn said. “We need to keep the international pressure on the Chinese Communist Party until all coercive population control is eradicated.”
China’s one-child policy was introduced in 1980, and only in 2013 did the Communist Party allow couples to have a second child if either parent was an only child.
The one-child policy is estimated to have prevented 400 million births.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.