China family planning: decades of putting all eggs in one basket

Mon Oct 6, 2014 4:15am EDT
 
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By Carlos Barria

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Communist Party leaders have praised their one-child policy for preventing the population from spiraling out of control, but critics say it has spawned decades of forced abortions, infanticide and child trafficking.

China, the world's most populous country with nearly 1.4 billion people, says the policy has averted 400 million births since 1980, saving scarce food resources and helping to pull families out of poverty.

Critics say it has created a generation of spoilt brats and re-enforced a cultural preference for male heirs who can better take care of their parents in old age - if couples are allowed only one child, many want to make sure it is a boy.

"The parents put all their eggs in one basket," said Huang Zheng, born in 1980. "This generation carries the burden of too much pressure. But it has already become the norm, because everyone is in the same situation."

Couples violating the policy have had to pay a fine, or in some cases have been forced to undergo abortions. China fined acclaimed film director Zhang Yimou 7.5 million yuan ($1.24 million) in January for having three children.

But late last year, China changed tack and said it would allow millions of families to have two children, part of a plan to raise fertility rates and ease the financial burden on a rapidly aging population.

Under the old rules, urban couples were permitted a second child if both parents did not have siblings and rural couples were allowed to have two children if their first-born was a girl. But now urban couples can have a second child if just one of them is an only child.

There are other exceptions, including looser rules for ethnic minorities.   Continued...

 
Jiejin Qiu, who is six months pregnant with her first baby, poses underwater during a photo shoot at a local wedding photo studio in Shanghai September 5, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Barria