China will further optimize its fertility policy and implement a policy that allows a couple to have three children, as well as supporting measures, the government said on May 31 to actively address the issue of an aging population. The decision comes just over two weeks after China released the results of its seventh national census, highlighting the serious population aging and other related socioeconomic issues facing the world’s most populous country. Demographers have expressed surprise at how quickly China launched its “three-child policy.
China’s seventh census showed a fertility rate of 1.3, the lowest since the “Great Famine” of 1961, and making China one of the countries with the lowest birth rates in the world. But the new three-child policy is still far from the full abolition of the decades-old family planning policy that demographers and human rights activists have been waiting for.
The decision to further relax the fertility policy was made at a May 31 meeting of the Central Political Bureau chaired by Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping. China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported that since the 18th National Congress, the Communist Party has made plans to implement the “separate two-child” and “comprehensive two-child” policies, which have “achieved positive results. But the report also acknowledged that “as China’s aging deepens, further optimizing the fertility policy and implementing the policy that allows a couple to have three children and supporting measures will help improve China’s population structure and implement the national strategy to actively deal with the aging population.
Yi Fu Xian: China’s Census Data False on Rapid Introduction of Three-Child Policy
Speaking to the Voice of America, Fuxian Yi, author of “The Empty Nest” and a senior researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said he was surprised by how quickly the Chinese government introduced the “three-child policy” because the country’s population problem was not serious or urgent, according to the Chinese official media.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) just announced the census data on May 11, and it’s very good. 250 million people in the younger age group, that is, 0-15 years old, which means the average fertility rate from 2006 to 2019 is 1.7-1.8, which is higher than the United States, higher than Europe, higher than Japan,” he said. The National Bureau of Statistics says we are in a very dynamic age structure with the same age as the US and such a good birth rate. (The reality is) they completely covered up the real data, and I was so angry that there was no such thing as good population data as they said. Now it’s a rush and less than a month to announce ‘three children’.”
Prior to the release of China’s latest population figures, the Financial Times had exclusively reported that China’s population would decline for the first time since 1949, with the total population falling below 1.4 billion. But China’s National Bureau of Statistics quickly “debunked” the report, saying that China’s population would continue to grow. According to official figures, China will have 12 million births in 2020, an 18 percent drop from 2019, the fourth consecutive year of decline after the implementation of the “comprehensive two-child” birth growth in 2016. Official data from the 2020 China Census also show that the proportion of people aged 60 or older in China had risen sharply to 18.7 percent by the end of 2020, up from 13.3 percent a decade earlier. Meanwhile, the proportion of people aged 15-59 fell to 63.35 percent from 70.1 percent in 2010.
Richardson: Will Beijing Go Further to Force People to Have Children?
Sophie Richardson, director of Human Rights Watch’s China program, says the “three-child policy The “three-child policy” is a stopgap measure adopted by the Chinese government in response to the demographic crisis, and does not imply that the authorities have made progress in improving human rights, particularly women’s reproductive rights.
There should be no restrictions on women’s reproductive rights,” she told Voice of America. It’s clear that the authorities made this decision because they are increasingly concerned about population issues, rather than giving women the full power they deserve. Unless and until the government completely withdraws from regulating people’s reproductive rights, we fear that we will still see problems such as employment discrimination and other discrimination against women.”
The Chinese government said that unlike the previous two adjustments to the population’s fertility policy, the “three-child policy” will be accompanied by supporting measures. The person in charge of China’s National Health Commission explained through Xinhua that the so-called “supporting measures” include strengthening the concept of marriage for marriageable young people, tackling bad social customs such as bad marriage practices and overpriced bride price, improving the level of eugenics services, developing a universal childcare service system, and reducing family education expenses, as well as improving the maternity leave and In addition, we will improve the maternity leave and maternity insurance systems and protect women’s employment rights. Among them, maternity leave and the protection of women’s employment rights and interests are ranked last.
Richardson argues that the Chinese authorities have been unwilling to completely relinquish control over the reproductive rights of Chinese people, whether under the “comprehensive two-child” or “three-child” policy. Human rights activists are now beginning to worry whether the Chinese government will go overboard and instead start making it mandatory for couples to have children.
It doesn’t matter if they don’t have a child, or if they have a child, even with the three-child policy, it’s still a form of discrimination,” she said. And it could get worse, because employers won’t want to hire women if they have to take maternity leave. So the government really needs to do more than just remove any restrictions on the number of children. It has to do things like subsidize maternity leave. It has to punish employers who discriminate against women who want to take maternity leave. There are a number of additional steps that the authorities need to take before you actually see a large number of people having the willingness to have their first, second and third child. One of our concerns at the moment is whether the authorities will go too far and start requiring people to have children.”
Three-child policy too late to have limited effect
Yi Fuxian, author of “The Empty Nest”, argues that it may be too late to implement a “three-child policy” because decades of “one-child” policies have completely changed Chinese fertility attitudes, and these “complementary measures” proposed by China’s Health and Welfare Commission are The “complementary measures” proposed by China’s Health and Welfare Commission are what China’s closest neighbor, Japan, is already doing, with very limited results.
The fertility issue involves a lot of issues,” he said. Japan has a lot of shortcomings, and the inability to raise children is just one of them. Japan’s fertility rate only increased from 1.26 in 2005 to 1.45 in 2015, and now the fertility rate is 1.36 again in 2019, despite strong efforts to encourage fertility, which is not working well in Japan, but China has not reached Japan’s (economic) level. China doesn’t have the money, China is aging before it gets rich. Aging will lead to an economic slowdown in China, and an economic slowdown will lead to a debt crisis for many local governments, and there is simply no money to encourage fertility.”
On Sina Weibo, Xinhua News Agency sent out a questionnaire on the latest “three-child policy” titled “Are you ready for the three-child birth policy?” The questionnaire has four options. The questionnaire has four options: “ready, can’t wait”, “already on the agenda”, “hesitant, many issues to be considered” and “not at all”. “Don’t think about it at all”. A total of 26,000 people participated in the poll, and as many as 24,000 votes were cast in favor of “not considering at all”. The questionnaire microblogging was quickly deleted.
Yi Fu Xian said the three-child policy is also still family planning. “It’s very funny,” he said, adding that “family planning should have been stopped a long time ago. Family planning is the government’s hand in the people’s bodies, in the people’s pants. The government should be safeguarding reproductive rights, not violating them.”