Reports from news outlets across the world today claim China is reforming it’s one-child policy, but is that really the case?
Such reports surfaced every so often as the Chinese communist government attempts to repair its public image abroad, but the reforms either turn out to be untrue or are so minor that they really do nothing to curb the massive human rights abuses associated with the policy and its forced abortions and sterilizations.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the reforms include stopping the forced labor camps that violators of the one-child policy must endure. Another reform supposedly includes allowing parents of one child who were only children themselves to have a second baby. As the Journal reports:
The proposals follow the end on Tuesday of a four-day meeting of top Chinese Communist Party leaders, and they represent the first comprehensive road map for reform under new Chinese President Xi Jinping.
While a preliminary summary of the meeting released on Tuesday was vague, the more-detailed document released on Friday sketches an ambitious reform program designed to address problems that China faces: maturing growth, rising worries about a wide wealth gap and endemic pollution, and increasingly vocal criticism of Beijing’s handling of a number of social issues.
“More attention also needs to be paid to employment, income levels, social security and people’s health,” the document said.
The test now for Mr. Xi and China’s leaders will be how to implement many of its goals, including whether they will be introduced in coming months or will be introduced more gradually. The leadership is likely to face resistance ranging from state enterprises and the bureaucracies that oversee them to local governments, which have been frustrated by attempts at piecemeal reforms in recent years. A special leadership committee to oversee reform, which was announced previously, is supposed to address possible resistance, though the document provides few details on how it will do so.
The document said China would significantly ease its one-child policy, allowing couples to have two children if one of the parents is an only child. Currently, Chinese couples are restricted to one child except under some circumstances, such as rural dwellers, pilot programs in a number of areas and among ethnic minorities.
China also plans to abolish a controversial labor camp system in what Xinhua described as “part of efforts to improve human rights and judicial practices.” Under the system, which has been in place since 1957, police are allowed to imprison people in labor camps for up to four years without formal arrest or trial.
Public outrage over the system swelled earlier this year, after a woman named Tang Hui was sent to a labor camp after petitioning authorities for tougher penalties for the men convicted of abducting and raping her daughter. Ostensibly set up to as a way to keep petty crimes from clogging the courts, in practice it is used to imprison petitioners and other politically disruptive people.
Officials had signaled intentions to either reform or abolish the system, known as re-education through labor, as early as January, but this marks the first time the government has mentioned abolishing it in a formal document.
LifeNews contacted Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, to inquire about whether or not she thinks these reports are legitimate. She has not responded for this story, but she told LifeNews earlier this year that China appears to have no interest in abandoning the one-child policy — just tinkering with it to make it look better.
“The fact that the Chinese Communist Party is considering the possibility of folding the family planning agency into the Ministry of Health is an inadequate basis on which to herald the end of the One Child Policy. There is no mention of the eradication of the policy; merely the streamlining of its administration,” she said then.
Littlejohn said rumors that the policy may be ending ignore the fact that a top family planning official dashed hopes that the One Child Policy will be abolished.
“We must unwaveringly adhere to the One Child Policy as a national policy to stabilize the low birth rate as the primary task,” stated Wang Xia, Chairman the National Population and Family Planning Commission, at a national conference on January 14, 2013. Wang Xia further stated, “We need to keep the One-child policy and keep the national birth rate low . . . It’s our priority.”
As Littlejohn told LifeNews:
The problem with the One Child Policy is not the number of children “allowed.” Rather, it is the fact that the CCP is telling women how many children they can have and then enforcing that limit through forced abortion, forced sterilization and infanticide. Even if all couples were allowed two children, there is no guarantee that the CCP will cease their appalling methods of enforcement. Regardless of the number of children allowed, women who get pregnant without permission will still be dragged out of their homes, strapped down to tables and forced to abort babies that they want, even up to the ninth month of pregnancy. It does not matter whether you are pro-life or pro-choice on this issue. No one supports forced abortion, because it is not a choice.”
Instituting a two-child policy will not end gendercide. Indeed, areas in which two children currently are allowed are especially vulnerable to gendercide, the sex-selective abortion of females. According to the 2009 British Medical Journal study of 2005 national census data, in nine provinces, for “second order births” where the first child is a girl, 160 boys were born for every 100 girls. In two provinces, Jiangsu and Anhui, for the second child, there were 190 boys for every hundred girls born. This study stated, “Sex selective abortion accounts for almost all the excess males.” Because of this gendercide, there are an estimated 37 million Chinese men who will never marry because their future wives were terminated before they were born. This gender imbalance is a powerful, driving force behind trafficking in women and sexual slavery, not only in China, but in neighboring nations as well.
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The Chinese Communist Party periodically modifies the One Child Policy, but the coercion at its core remains. Reports of these tweaks — especially when amplified by western media — throw the human rights world into confusion and blunt genuine efforts to end forced abortion in China. On September 9, 2010, for example, TIME ran the headline, “China Could Overthrow One-Child Rule.”
Myriad other news sources followed suit. This dramatic headline was based on the fact that China proposed to run a pilot program allowing some couples to have two children. Soon afterwards, on September 25, 2010 – the 30th anniversary of the One Child Policy – a top population control official praised the policy and stated that China “will stick to the family planning policy in the coming decades.” Moreover, despite this pilot program, numerous reports of late-term forced abortions have surfaced since 2010, including the forced abortion at seven months of Feng Jianmei in June 2012.