In an extraordinarily candid article filed with the Associated Press recently, Chinese officials admitted that their coercive one-child policy has not worked across all of China and contended that they will have to do more to make sure that Chinese couples have only one infant in their reproductive lifetime.
The article declared that “tensions over the policy run high in many villages, where children are needed to work on family farms. In some cases, anger has boiled over into violence. In others, farmers who want more children have fled their villages to evade punishment.”
Instead of coercion, the Beijing government is allegedly resorting to “sweeteners” to make the policy more palatable. Among the incentives are “’better health care and more contraceptive choices.”
But, sweetened or not, the goal remains the coercive same: no more children. The article admits “the new programs are aimed at putting the brake harder on population growth.”
Urban couples generally comply with the policy, the article reports, because they pay high fines and risk losing important benefits by having more than one child. In the countryside, where most Chinese live, enforcement is more difficult, the article maintains.
Rural officials are responsible for meeting family planning quotas. Some take bribes to neglect to report births. Some resort to terror and force to make sure the rules are followed. ‘It would be better to have blood flow like a river than to increase the population by one’ reads one rural slogan, according to a report by the Chinese newspaper International Trade News.
Women must get regular checkups and certificates to prove they are not pregnant. Those with unauthorized pregnancies are ordered to have abortions, the article reported.
Chinese officials “bristle” when asked about the policy. “We know what is good, what is bad. We are not foolish people. We take care of our Chinese women,” said Huang Baoshan, spokesman for the State Family Planning Commission. But the article notes that “the government’s guidance is not always accepted.”
The article declared that the highest birth rates are in China’s poorest counties, where farmers still need their children’s labor and rely on their support in old age. Those who have extra children are fined, but some are unable or unwilling to pay.
It also admitted that some farmers who want bigger families move to areas where enforcement of the policy is known to be lax. And that “officials also complain that family planning is especially difficult among the drifting millions of migrant workers.
Some cases have led to violence, the article says, citing one instance in which the daughter of a family planning official survived being stabbed 42 times by a woman who had violated the rules and was angry with the official, the Yangcheng Evening News reported.
In many areas, the article declared, officials are turning to economies to help make their arguments. “If you want to get rich have fewer kids and raise more pigs,” says one sign painted on a wall.
The article, “China Eyes Incentives for Baby Limit” ran 0n the Associated Press wire on 7 July.