To Your Heart's Content

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A lil' more re: one child policy

The one-child policy in China began in 1979 to stabilize the population (now over 1.3 billion). It essentially stipulates that only one child is allowed per couple. But there are some exceptions. Ethnic minority groups (about 5% of the population) can have three children. Rural families can have a second child if the first is a daughter. Also, if both parents are only children then a second child is permitted. And I believe another is that if a father is the third generation of a family line that has only had one male (that is, all the rest are females), he can father two children (I'll have to check the verity of this one...). The government estimates the policy has resulted in 300m fewer births in 10 years. Couples who break the law face fines, tax increases and dismissal. Forced abortions and sterilisations are prohibited but a recent article by The Guardian exposed a town, besides others, where forced abortions and sterilizations are carried out by party officials who, knowing their chances of promotion are linked to family planning targets, have turned to ruthless measures to enforce regulations.

There are ways around this policy given one's guanxi and wealth. For example, if a couple's child is born retarded or with other disabilities, they can have another. Well, given enough money, one can have a 'doctor's note' falsely claiming their first child has a disability thus enabling them to give birth to another. Also, say a migrant laborer comes to the city from his hometown, with his wife, and gives birth to his second or third, or even fourth child. Well, only his local government can enforce and collect the fines so this case lies in some peripheral penumbra. Of course, his extralegal children are then in a situation that lies beyond my ken in terms of consequences re: hukou, identification card, etc....


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