- About one million households across China have applied to authorities for
permission to have a second child. After
the data released by Beijing yesterday, today, the National Commission for
Health and Family Planning confirmed the peak of requests after the easing of
the infamous "one-child law". Mao Qunan, spokesman for the commission,
said that the data "reflects the government forecasts, which predicts about
two million new births more each year."
National health authorities, Mao added, "are also studying the current situation, to help improve the health service for pregnant women and their children. We must prepare for the next population boom".
From 1979 onwards, China has - often violently - implemented the policy of one child per family, to focus on the nation's economic development. As a result only ethnic groups and farmers are allowed to have a second child if the first child was a girl. Implementation of the law has often been violent, with exorbitant fines against violators, and even forced sterilization and abortions up to nine months of pregnancy. Family planning officials were often rewarded for ensuring that the law and population quotas were respected opening the door to corruption and abuse of power.
The easing of the norm was launched in December 2013. It allows couples in which one partner is already an only child, to have two children. In any case, the new policy still remains limited even from the geographical point of view: its benefits will go only to the inhabitants of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing and those of the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Anhui, Sichuan, Guangdong and Jiangsu.
This change of course is not the result of a new realization on the part of the national leadership or a desire for protection of life as such. Rather, experts and analysts point out, it arises from the pressing need to balance the social and economic imbalances linked to the collapse of births over the past 30 years. The two most pressing issues are the aging population, which threatens the survival of the national pension system, and the imbalance between the genders which threatens to leave "between 20 and 30 million Chinese" without the possibility of finding a wife.