China to ease decades-old one-child pol­icy

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

BEI­JING: China will ease fam­ily plan­ning re­stric­tions na­tion­wide, al­low­ing mil­lions of fam­i­lies to have two chil­dren in the coun­try’s most sig­nif­i­cant lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of its strict one-child pol­icy in three decades.

Cou­ples in which one par­ent is an only child will be able to have a sec­ond child, one of the high­lights of a sweep­ing raft of re­forms an­nounced three days af­ter the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party ended a meet­ing that mapped out pol­icy for the next decade.

The plan to ease the pol­icy was en­vi­sioned by the gov­ern­ment about five years ago as of­fi­cials wor­ried the strict con­trols were un­der­min­ing eco­nomic growth and con­tribut­ing to a rapidly age­ing pop­u­la­tion the coun­try could not sup­port fi­nan­cially.

Schol­ars had long urged the gov­ern­ment to re­form the pol­icy, in­tro­duced in the late 1970s to pre­vent pop­u­la­tion growth spi­ralling out of con­trol but now re­garded by many ex­perts as out­dated and harm­ful to the econ­omy.

While the eas­ing of the con­trols will not have a sub­stan­tial de­mo­graphic im­pact in the world’s most pop­u­lous na­tion, it could pave the way for the abo­li­tion of the pol­icy.

“The de­mo­graphic sig­nif­i­cance is min­i­mal but the po­lit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance is sub­stan­tial,” said Wang Feng, a so­ci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor at Fu­dan Univer­sity. “This is one of the most ur­gent pol­icy changes that we’ve been await­ing for years. What this will mean is a very speedy abol­ish­ment of the one-child pol­icy.”

Wang Guangzhou, a de­mog­ra­pher from gov­ern­ment think tank the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences es­ti­mated the pol­icy would af­fect 30 mil­lion women of child-bear­ing age in a pop­u­la­tion of 1.4 bil­lion peo­ple.

Al­though it is known as the one-child pol­icy, China’s fam­ily plan­ning rules are more com­pli­cated. Un­der cur­rent rules, ur­ban cou­ples are per­mit­ted a sec­ond child if both par­ents do not have sib­lings, and ru­ral cou­ples are al­lowed two if their first-born is a girl. There are nu­mer­ous other ex­cep­tions.

Any cou­ple vi­o­lat­ing the

‘The de­mo­graphic sig­nif­i­cance is min­i­mal but the po­lit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance is sub­stan­tial’

pol­icy has to pay a large fine.

The one-child pol­icy cov­ers 63 per­cent of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion and Bei­jing says it has averted 400 mil­lion births since 1980.

An­a­lysts say the one-child pol­icy has shrunk China’s labour pool, hurt­ing eco­nomic growth. For the first time in decades the workingage pop­u­la­tion fell last year.

Stud­ies have shown the detri­men­tal ef­fects of the onechild pol­icy. China’s labour force, at about 930 mil­lion, will start de­clin­ing in 2025 at a rate of about 10 mil­lion a year, pro­jec­tions show. Mean­while, its el­derly pop­u­la­tion will hit 360 mil­lion by 2030, from about 200 mil­lion to­day.

A skewed gen­der ra­tio is another con­se­quence. China has a tra­di­tional bias for sons. Many fam­i­lies abort fe­male fe­tuses or aban­don baby girls. About 118 boys are born for ev­ery 100 girls, against a global av­er­age of 103-107 boys per 100 girls.

The ad­just­ment is likely to be pop­u­lar. Zhang Yuanyuan, who has a one-year-old son, said she had al­ready de­cided to have one more child be­fore the new pol­icy and was will­ing to pay the fine.

“We are very happy about this new pol­icy.” – Reuters TEHRAN: Iran’s cul­ture min­is­ter has again spo­ken up in de­fence of so­cial me­dia, say­ing Face­book shouldn’t be banned and that it’s not a “crim­i­nal ap­pli­ca­tion”. Ali Jan­nati told the semi- of­fi­cial Fars news agency yes­ter­day that he uses and posts on Face­book and that an over­seer body should lift the ex­ist­ing ban. In the past, Jan­nati has ad­vo­cated that all so­cial me­dia net­works be ac­ces­si­ble to Ira­ni­ans.

Iran banned the net­works over al­leged “abuse” af­ter op­po­si­tion mem­bers used them dur­ing the 2009 un­rest fol­low­ing re­elec­tion of then- pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad. Jan­nati’s re­marks un­der­score what has be­come a grow­ing rift be­tween the mod­er­ate-lean­ing gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani and Iran’s hard-liners.

Land­mark arms deal

MOSCOW: Rus­sia is of­fer­ing to sell Egypt mod­ern he­li­copters and air de­fence sys­tems in a land­mark deal re­port­edly worth $2 bil­lion (R20.4bn) that would mark a re­vival of largescale mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion.

Rus­sian for­eign min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov and de­fence min­is­ter Sergei Shoigu vis­ited Egypt on Thurs­day seek­ing lu­cra­tive con­tracts with the gov­ern­ment af­ter the oust­ing of Is­lamist pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Mursi. Mikhail Zavaly, a se­nior of­fi­cial with Rus­sia’s arms ex­port agency Rosoboronex­port who will lead its del­e­ga­tion at the up­com­ing Dubai air show, con­firmed that Rus­sia wanted to sell mil­i­tary hard­ware to Egypt. Rus­sian daily Ve­do­mosti said ne­go­ti­a­tions were on­go­ing about the sale of MiG-29M/M2 fighter jets, low range air de­fence sys­tems and Kor­net anti-tank rock­ets.

Wash­ing­ton sus­pended some of its mil­i­tary aid to Cairo af­ter Mursi’s oust­ing and Zavaly con­firmed that Moscow had sensed an op­por­tu­nity.

Google ad a hit

MUM­BAI: An emo­tional ad­ver­tise­ment for Google’s search en­gine has be­come a hit in In­dia and Pak­istan by re­fer­ring to a trau­matic pe­riod in the his­tory of the South Asian archri­vals. The “Re­union” com­mer­cial has been viewed more than 1.6 mil­lion times on YouTube.

It por­trays two childhood friends, now el­derly men, who haven’t seen each other since the 1947 par­ti­tion that cre­ated In­dia and Pak­istan from the old Bri­tish em­pire in South Asia.

In the ad, an In­dian woman tracks down her grand­fa­ther’s childhood friend in Pak­istan us­ing the search en­gine and ar­ranges a sur­prise re­union.

Web leak slammed

BANGKOK: The daugh­ters of Thai­land’s self-ex­iled for­mer leader Thaksin Shi­nawa­tra have crit­i­cised an online leak of flight de­tails show­ing that they flew first-class to Lon­don with eight suit­cases. But they de­nied that they were fol­low­ing their fa­ther’s foot­steps and flee­ing the coun­try.

Thai Air­ways said it was in­ves­ti­gat­ing if one of its em­ploy­ees com­mit­ted the eth­i­cal breach, which came dur­ing Thai­land’s lat­est round of mass street protests against Thaksin.

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