China Forced Abortions Ironic as One-Child Policy Yields Labor Shortages

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 25, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

China Forced Abortions Ironic as One-Child Policy Yields Labor Shortages Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 25
, 2007

Beijing, China ( — The riots in southwestern China over the weekend as thousands of people protested the rash of forced abortions there proves that the Asian nation’s one-child policy is not working. Observers say the population is not accepting the harsh punishments that accompany violations and that the policy is producing a labor shortage.

The unrest in Guangxi province follows dozens of forced abortions there in the month of April.

When family planning officials there saw they did not meet their birth quotas, they forcibly aborted women as late as the ninth month of pregnancy and institutes new fines on everyone who had broken the one-child policy since 1980.

Those who couldn’t pay saw their homes burned and jobs taken. People there responded by rioting and overturning cars and setting fire to the population control offices. As many as five people may have died in the process.

The one-child policy is likely to fuel further social unrest as rich Chinese can afford to pay the fines and get around the one-child prohibition while middle class and poor Chinese are punished.

Ye Tingfang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), says that only about 35 percent of Chinese are forced to abide by the policy as others get out of it or are too old to be impacted.

He warned that it is contributing to a problematic gender imbalance that is causing a number of social ills as girl babies are killed via sex-selection abortions or infanticides and sometimes sold to places where there are not enough young women for men to marry.

Meanwhile, Prof Zhang Yi from the Institute of Population and Labour Economics, told Asia News that the one-child policy has produced an effect where fewer rural workers are going into cities to work.

As a result, ironic labor shortages are beginning to appear in the coastal regions because there are not enough people to work.

“In the beginning, it was believed that our big population would be a hindrance to our economic development. But over the past decades, experience has told us otherwise,” he said.

“Japan, for instance, has little in the way of resources and boasts one of the highest population densities in the world, but it is a thriving economy and one of the richest nations. Labour is the most important source of wealth.”