- Global Voices - https://globalvoices.org -

China: One-Child Policy Heading for a Revision

Categories: East Asia, China, Development, Human Rights, Politics, Youth

According to Time magazine [1], the one-child policy [2], a cornerstone of contemporary China, will be changed when word got out late last week that Shanghai was encouraging couples to have additional offspring.

For three decades, millions of Chinese parents have raised their only children under the strict prescriptions of China’s family planning rules. Now, faced with an aging crisis, authorities in Shanghai have for the first time begun to encourage young couples to have two children, a move that marks the Chinese government’s first official step away from this intervening policy.

It is said that Beijing is now rethinking the controversial one-child policy that has helped spur economic growth since the economic reform and opening-up [3]— but exacted a heavy social cost as well.

When the news got widely discussed by Chinese newspapers and magazines, it also stirred the netizens’ interest and raised lots of argument. An English blogger [4]thinks that a more major change will take place in Chinese big cities:

Bringing this initiative to one of China's biggest cities will be a major step, and it will be interesting to see how much more China relaxes the (still-popular) policy.

Under the one-child policy, there's an imbalance of population in Shanghai. Blogger Brendan Malone [5]says the burden of young people is quite heavy:

Yet the fewer numbers are exactly what has Shanghai worried, because the city is faced with not enough young men and women to sustain its aging population.

Another blogger [6]says the change of one-child policy has a deeper sense, not only about the development but also related to the necessity of the policy itself:


One-child policy is our national policy. But that doesn't mean that it has no flaws and cannot be changed. In the 70s, the government and the people's congress made a promise that this policy would last for 30 years.  Now it has been 30 years and it's time for them to do what they had promised.

Because of this, some argue that why only people in Shanghai has this privilege to have more children.  A reader complains that this is quite unfair [7]:


Why only Shanghai enjoys the privilege? Isn't it a part of China? They already have the economic privilege and now they want to ask for birth privilege. I firmly protest the idea that we can relax the residence restriction because of the aging process.

A woman in Sichuan [8]who is the only child of her parents complains it's difficult for her and her husband  to have more children only because they are not in Shanghai:

如果准许生二胎 那么任何夫妇都应该可以生 为什么要有那么多条条框框呀?不成了特殊群体的特殊权利了吗?我老公有个哥哥 我是独生子女 我们都在外地工作 家也安在外地 有个儿子 我还想着生个女儿呢!

If we allow parents to have second children, then all the couples in the country should have this right. Why do they set up so many restrictions and rules for people around this country but Shanghai? My husband has a brother, but I'm the single child of my parents. We live and work far from home with our only son. We're eager to have another daughter!

But, if all the Chinese can have their second children, the result can be terrible. A blogger comments [9]:


The world’s most populous country, it seems, wants to have a bigger population. The new push, which aims to tackle growing worries about the country’s shrinking work force and aging population, is the most public effort yet to counter a policy that is considered both a tremendous success and a terrible failure. While it has kept population growth under control, it has also led to forced abortions.

Chen Jibing [10], a journalist in Shanghai, writes in his blog that the abandoning of one-child policy reflects a cultural anxiety of natives in Shanghai:


I personally think that behind the question “Do you want another child?”, lies a psychological reason. It implies the cultural anxiety in Shanghai as well as the eastern coastal areas.


In Shanghai, I believe all the young parents like me are more or less worried about a phenomenon that the kids are unwilling to speak Shanghainese. If this trend goes on, 30 years later, I’ afraid, Shanghainese, a kind of language which was once often used as elements in satire sketches, will generally perish.