POPULATION: by Peter WestmoreNews Weekly
China reinforces "one-child policy" with $200,000 fine
, June 23, 2012
The government-controlled Chinese media have reinforced China’s existing one-child policy by extensively reporting that a couple who had a second child have been fined 1.3 million yuan, about $200,000.
China has imposed a rigorous one-child per family policy for over 30 years, backed up by forced abortions and sterilisation, which has been repeatedly condemned by human rights organisations.
The English-language Shanghai Daily reported that the fine had been imposed on a couple whose first child, a son, was born in 1995, and whose second child, a daughter, was born seven years later.
The amount of the fine is more than most Chinese families would earn in a lifetime, and emphasises the extent to which the policy is being enforced.
It contradicts repeated statements which have appeared in the Western media, suggesting that the Chinese government was relaxing its policy.
For example, Time magazine suggested in 2009 that Beijing was rethinking its policy. It said: “Is the world’s most populous nation about to get more crowded? Reports surfaced in international media last week that in an effort to slow the rapid greying of the workforce, couples in Shanghai — the country’s most populous city — would be encouraged to have two kids if the parents are themselves only children.
“Shanghai officials have since denied any policy shift, saying this caveat is nothing new, but the contradictory reports are another manifestation of ongoing rumours that Beijing is rethinking the controversial one-child policy that has for the past three decades helped spur economic growth — but exacted a heavy social cost along the way.”
Earlier this year, Bloomberg Businessweek (April 19, 2012) featured an article titled, “The end of China’s one-child policy?”
While the policy is enforced differently in city and rural areas, the effects of the government’s draconian policy are clearly visible.
One consequence is that at least 200 million abortions have been conducted in China over the past 30 years, directly as a result of this policy.
A further consequence is the ageing of China’s population and a looming shortage of women of child-rearing age who are needed to maintain China’s population.
While the country’s population is still growing, demographers predict that it will peak within a decade, and then begin a precipitate decline.
A further consequence is that there is a pronounced imbalance between male and female children, as baby girls are aborted or killed after birth. There are now about 14 per cent more young males than females in China today.
The enforcement of the policy — through forced sterilisations, forced abortions and requiring couples to seek permission before having children — has been widely condemned.
The Laogai Foundation, based in the United States, says: “The one-child policy raises several human rights issues. Enforcement methods are coercive and harsh, and include forced abortions and forced sterilisations. Moreover, a traditional preference for sons in China causes many couples to abort or abandon baby girls, creating an acute gender imbalance that has led to an increase in the trafficking of females nationwide.”
The one-child policy should be seen in the wider context of China’s abuse of human rights.
The exiled Chinese Nobel laureate, Gao Xingjian, said on the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, that China does not seem to be heading along the path of freedom of thought and speech, despite other improvements in personal freedom.
He told Taiwan’s China News Agency that the situation had changed in China since the Maoist era when there was no freedom at all in the country, but that fundamentally the situation had not changed.
He particularly cited the government’s failure to accept responsibility for the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, when many hundreds of young people were shot or otherwise killed in Tiananmen Square, for asking for freedom of speech.
Some of those arrested for their involvement in the Tiananmen protest are still imprisoned.
The most prominent is Liu Xiaobo, who in 1989 was a lecturer at Beijing University. He was imprisoned for 20 months after the massacre, although he had urged the protesting university students to leave Tiananmen Square peacefully before the government crackdown began.
Since then, he has been hounded by the authorities, periodically arrested and detained. The latest instance was on December 25, 2009, when he was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment and an additional two years’ deprivation of political rights by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court on charges of “inciting subversion of state power”, a charge he has strenuously denied.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”.