By: Aileen (Chen Xi)
On October 29th 2015, the communique of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee proposed to fully commit the two-child policy, which means all couples can legally have a second child. China had implemented one-child policy for over 30 years in order to control the fast growing population. One-child policy had greatly helped the resource allocation and population quality in China. For those violate the policy, they needed to pay the Social Maintenance Fees, the highest of which was 7.48 million RMB from ZhanYimou, the famous director.
Mrs. Zhao, a forty-five year old lady, felt sorry about couldn’t having another child. She said that she really wanted a second child, but it would affect her father-in-law’s career in the government. Had she got another baby, her father-in-law would probably not have gotten a promotion. What happen if the she had one? Explain in one sentence. As for me, I am the only child in my family, enjoying endless love and compromises. However, sometimes I do admit that I felt it would be great to have siblings to share ideas and grow up together.
“The features of population structure in China are clearly longevity risk and baby bust,” President Xi mentioned when making illustration about the 13th Five-Year Plan for national socioeconomic development proposal. Longevity risk and baby bust are factors of implementing two-child policy. According to 2015 data in United Nations, the average fertility rate worldwide is 2.51, while the figure is 1.75 in developed countries. The fertility rate in UK is 1.92, US 1.89, Germany 1.39, Japan 1.40 and South Asia 2.56. In China, the 2010 figure was 1.53, lower than that of many high-income countries with over 13500-dollar average GDP, which was 1.76. Besides, China has officially enter the aging society since 2001, while now the over 60-year-old population takes up 15.2% of the total population.
Except reducing longevity risk and baby bust, two-child policy has other advantages. Wu Maiju, working in Population and Family Planing Department in Shandong Province, said, “Two Child Policy shows that government policies are more humane because it allows families to have the right to give birth. Besides, it helps to decrease the risk of losing the only child, which is grave tragedy for families.” Two Child Policy also helps reduce the imbalance sex ratio. According to the national data, there are 33 million more men than women in China. Academy of Social Sciences predicted that GDP will boost 0.5 points due to two-child policy.
However, the previous family planning policy (proposed in 2013, if one of the couple is the only child, then the couple can have a second child) wasn’t as popular as expected. “Since the new two-child policy was announced, I found that women who attended the pre-pregnancy check in November were from 18-48 year-old,” Wu said, “people want a second child, but they worry about the financial pressure and more importantly, the birth defects since the environment pollution and food safety issues. ” It is estimated by baby.qq.com that raising a child from pregnancy to 18-year-old needs 490 thousand RMB. Also, the birth defects rate in China is currently around 5.6% according to Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference News, which is nearly double the birth defects rate of developed countries.
“I think that the one-child policy has been of great benefit for the development of China and therefore for the Chinese people,” Paul van Den Hoven, professor of Language and Communication at Utrecht University, said, “But I regret that the government considers this a matter of government regulation, as it does with topics as having a child without being married, and so on. I am convinced that largely a similar result may have been reached by convincing people, offering education for the children, offering new career opportunities including education for women, and so on.” This suggests that, once certain policies are implemented in any country including Malaysia, the policy makers need to ensure the short and long term consequences for that and plan early to ensure related parties’ welfare are not affected.
According to Liaoning Evening News, when asked about why fully cancel birth restrictions, Wang Peian, deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said that the basic national conditions which is China’s large population will not change in a long period. The population pressure on socioeconomic development and resources environment will remain. May be the Chinese government need to improve social infrastructure including medical insurances and education subsidy for families with more babies. Hopefully Chinese population which takes up one fifth of the world population will be balanced, one day.
Footnote: This feature writing course has been cited from students’ feature stories at Xiamen University in China, supervised by a lecturer, Dr. Siti Suriani Othman of USIM (Malaysia University of Islamic Sciences), as a Visiting Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, Xiamen University, China, from 3 November to 27 December 2015.
Aileen (Chen Xi) is a Third Year Student at the School of Journalism and Communication, Xiamen University, China.