Family policy is changing but not ending
Afarewell to the family planning policy? Not so fast. More than 30 years after China issued its unique policy limiting most couples to just one child, along came November 2013 and a new, relaxed rule allowing couples to have a second baby if one of the parents is an only child.
As an only child born in the 1980s who is part of China’s first generation under the old rule, I have always been fascinated by even the slightest policy changes.
The seeds of that fascination sprouted in my childhood when I visited my uncle in the countryside.
The ubiquitous white-ink slogans plastered around the village read something like this: “Raise fewer babies but more piggies”, and (worse) “Houses toppled, cows confiscated, if abortion demand rejected.”
When I got into middle school, I was told by my mother that I could have two children in the future, provided the man I married happened to be an only child like me.
After graduation from college, I entered journalism, and I now cover health and population issues. It’s on my daily working list to closely follow the “fine-tuning” of the birth rule, which the country’s top leadership said at the start would last for a generation, or 30 years.
Did they keep the promise? I’ve been told yes.
Of course, a couple may choose to limit themselves to just one child — and that appears to be the trend in the era of economic growth and urbanization. But at least a limit of one will not be forced by government policy in most cases.
Starting in the 1990s, the initial policy was relaxed, and couples were allowed to have a second baby if each parent was an only child. In November, the rule was further relaxed so that just one parent need be in that category. The new rule will go into effect next year.
Here I sigh deeply. In my case it’s my own fault if I can’t have two babies.
I am in my early 30s, and I have no child. Seemingly, I must rush to put aside everything else to achieve two pregnancies while I am yet in my reproductive prime.
Otherwise, I will face risks as an “old” expectant mother — the possibility of premature delivery, placental abruption or easy miscarriage.
After a twist of mind, I decided to have just one child, but I still appreciate the policy change.
To my way of thinking, family planning should always be done by and within families.
Now, we are told, more couples can have two. But you are still a violator if you have three. So the policy doesn’t stop. It’s just changing — for the better, of course — but not ending. Maybe more people will tend to have small families. But the choice should be up to them, rather than imposed by any government rules. Contact the writer at shanjuan@ chinadaily.com.cn