The one-child policy, a part of the family planning policy, was a
population planning policy of China. It was introduced in 1979 and
began to be formally phased out near the end of 2015 and the beginning
of 2016. The policy was only enforced on
Han Chinese and allowed
exceptions for many groups, including ethnic minorities. In 2007, 36%
of China's population was subject to a strict one-child restriction,
with an additional 53% being allowed to have a second child if the
first child was a girl. Provincial governments imposed fines for
violations, and the local and national governments created commissions
to raise awareness and carry out registration and inspection work.
According to the Chinese government, 400 million births were
prevented. This claim has been questioned. Although 76% of Chinese
people supported the policy in a 2008 survey, it was controversial
outside of China.
On October 29, 2015, it was reported that the existing law would be
changed to a two-child policy, citing a statement from the Communist
Party of China. The new law became effective on January 1, 2016,
following its passage in the standing committee of the National
People's Congress on December 27, 2015.
China's population since 1950
Population in China
Change / year
Source: Census of China
5.1 Fertility rates
5.2 Continuation of demographic transition
5.3 Disparity in sex ratio at birth
5.7 Quality of life for women
5.8 Healthcare improvements
5.9 "Four-two-one" problem
5.10 Unregistered children
5.11 Potential social problems
5.12 Birth tourism
6.1 Statement of the effect of the policy on birth reduction
6.2 Unequal enforcement
Human rights violations
6.4 Effect on infanticide rates
7 In popular culture
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
Birth rate in China
During the period of Mao Zedong's leadership in China, the birth rate
fell from 37 per thousand to 20 per thousand. Infant mortality
declined from 227 per thousand births in 1949 to 53 per thousand in
1981, and life expectancy dramatically increased from around 35 years
in 1948 to 66 years in 1976. Until the 1960s, the government
encouraged families to have as many children as possible because of
Mao's belief that population growth empowered the country, preventing
the emergence of family planning programs earlier in China's
development. The population grew from around 540 million in
1949 to 940 million in 1976. Beginning in 1970, citizens were
encouraged to marry at later ages and have only two children.
Although the fertility rate began to decline, the Chinese government
observed the global debate over a possible overpopulation catastrophe
suggested by organizations such as
Club of Rome
Club of Rome and Sierra Club. While
visiting Europe in 1979, one of the top Chinese officials, Song Jian,
read two influential books of the movement,
The Limits to Growth
The Limits to Growth and A
Blueprint for Survival. With a group of mathematicians, Song
determined the correct population of
China to be 700 million. A
plan was prepared to reduce China's population to the desired level by
2080, with the one-child policy as one of the main instruments of
social engineering. In spite of some criticism inside the party,
the plan (also referred to as the Family Planning Policy) was
officially adopted in 1979. The plan called for families
to have one child each in order to curb a then-surging population and
limit the demands for water and other resources, as well as to
alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems in China.
The policy was formally implemented as a temporary measure on
September 18, 1980.
The one-child policy was originally designed to be a One-Generation
Policy. It was enforced at the provincial level and enforcement
varied; some provinces had more relaxed restrictions. The one-child
limit was most strictly enforced in densely populated urban areas.
Beginning in 1980, the official policy granted local officials the
flexibility to make exceptions and allow second children in the case
of "practical difficulties" (such as cases in which the father is a
disabled serviceman) or when both parents are single children, and
some provinces had other exemptions worked into their policies as
well. In most areas, families were allowed to apply to have a second
child if their first-born is a daughter. Furthermore, families
with children with disabilities have different policies and families
whose first child suffers from physical disability, mental illness, or
intellectual disability were allowed to have more children.
However, second children were sometimes subject to birth spacing
(usually 3 or 4 years). Children born in overseas countries were not
counted under the policy if they do not obtain Chinese citizenship.
Chinese citizens returning from abroad were allowed to have a second
Sichuan province allowed exemptions for couples of certain
backgrounds. By one estimate there were at least 22 ways in which
parents could qualify for exceptions to the law towards the end of the
one-child policy's existence. As of 2007, only 35.9% of the
population were subjected to a strict one-child limit. 52.9% were
permitted to have a second child if their first was a daughter; 9.6%
of Chinese couples were permitted two children regardless of their
gender; and 1.6% – mainly Tibetans – had no limit at all.
Sichuan Province Nongchang Village people Public Affairs
Bulletin Board in September 2005 noted that RMB 25,000 in social
compensation fees were owed in 2005. Thus far 11,500 RMB had been
collected, so another 13,500 RMB had to be collected.
Following the 2008
Sichuan earthquake, a new exception to the
regulations was announced in
Sichuan province for parents who had lost
children in the earthquake. Similar exceptions had previously
been made for parents of severely disabled or deceased children.
People have also tried to evade the policy by giving birth to a second
child in Hong Kong, but at least for
Guangdong residents, the
one-child policy was also enforced if the birth was given in Hong Kong
In accordance with China's affirmative action policies towards ethnic
minorities, all non-Han ethnic groups are subjected to different laws
and were usually allowed to have two children in urban areas, and
three or four in rural areas.
Han Chinese living in rural towns were
also permitted to have two children. Because of couples such as
these, as well as who simply pay a fine (or "social maintenance fee")
to have more children, the overall fertility rate of mainland
China was close to 1.4 children per woman as of 2011[update].
The Family Planning Policy was enforced through a financial penalty in
the form of the "social child-raising fee", sometimes called a "family
planning fine" in the West, which was collected as a fraction of
either the annual disposable income of city dwellers or of the annual
cash income of peasants, in the year of the child's birth. For
instance, in Guangdong, the fee is between 3 and 6 annual incomes for
incomes below the per capita income of the district, plus 1 to 2 times
the annual income exceeding the average. Both members of the couple
need to pay the fine.
As part of the policy, women were required to have a contraceptive
intrauterine device (IUD) surgically installed after having a first
child, and to be sterilized by tubal ligation after having a second
child. From 1980 to 2014, 324 million Chinese women were fitted with
IUDs in this way and 107 million were sterilized. Women who refused
these procedures – which many resented – could lose their
government employment and their children could lose access to
education or health services. The IUDs installed in this way were
modified such that they could not be removed manually, but only
through surgery. In 2016, following the abolition of the one-child
policy, the Chinese government announced that IUD removals would now
be paid for by the government.
In 2013, Deputy Director Wang Peian of the National
Health and Family
Planning Commission said that "China's population will not grow
substantially in the short term". A survey by the commission found
that only about half of eligible couples wish to have two children,
mostly because of the cost of living impact of a second child.
In November 2013, following the Third Plenum of the 18th Central
Committee of the Chinese Communist Party,
China announced the decision
to relax the one-child policy. Under the new policy, families could
have two children if one parent, rather than both parents, was an only
child. This mainly applied to urban couples, since there were
very few rural only children due to long-standing exceptions to the
policy for rural couples. The coastal province of Zhejiang, one of
China's most affluent, became the first area to implement this
"relaxed policy" in January 2014. The relaxed policy has been
implemented in 29 out of the 31 provinces, with the exceptions of
Xinjiang and Tibet. Under this policy, approximately 11 million
China are allowed to have a second child; however, only
"nearly one million" couples applied to have a second child in
2014, less than half the expected number of 2 million per
year. By May 2014, 241,000 out of 271,000 applications had been
approved. Officials of China’s National
Health and Family Planning
Commission claimed that this outcome was expected, and that
“second-child policy” would continue progressing with a good
In 2016, 433 births and 211 deaths were recorded in Wulipu, Hubei. The
birth rate was 8.9‰ and death rate was 4.3‰ resulting in a natural
population increase of 4.6‰. In the results of a separate survey
published by the
Shayang County government, Wulipu's population had
increased from 48,044 to 48,132 during a survey period. 424 children
were born during the survey period resulting in a birth rate of
8.82‰. During the same period, 63 people died, resulting in death
rate of 1.31‰. Of the births in the survey, 406 (95.75%) were in
compliance with the family planning policy of China. 312 (73.58%) of
the births were the firstborn in the family. (All of these births were
in compliance with the family planning policy of China.) Among the
firstborn children, 157 were female. 107 (25.24%) of the births were
the second-born child in the family. 90 of these births were in
compliance with the family planning policy of China. Among the
second-born children, 47 were female. Five (1.18%) of the births
surveyed were neither the firstborn nor second-born child in the
family. Four of these births were in compliance with the family
planning policy of China. Among the children born who were neither
firstborn nor second-born, two were female.
Two-child policy § China
In October 2015, the Chinese news agency
Xinhua announced plans of the
government to abolish the one-child policy, now allowing all families
to have two children, citing from a communiqué issued by the
Communist Party "to improve the balanced development of
population" – an apparent reference to the country's
female-to-male sex ratio – and to deal with an aging population
according to the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation. The new law took effect
on 1 January 2016 after it was passed in the standing committee of the
National People's Congress on 27 December 2015.
The rationale for the abolition was summarized by former Wall Street
Journal reporter Mei Fong: "The reason
China is doing this right now
is because they have too many men, too many old people, and too few
young people. They have this huge crushing demographic crisis as a
result of the one-child policy. And if people don’t start having
more children, they’re going to have a vastly diminished workforce
to support a huge aging population." China's ratio is about five
working adults to one retiree; the huge retiree community must be
supported, and that will dampen future growth, according to Fong.
Since the citizens of
China are living longer and having fewer
children, the growth of the population imbalance is expected to
continue, as reported by the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation which
referred to a
United Nations projections forecast that "
lose 67 million working-age people by 2030, while simultaneously
doubling the number of elderly. That could put immense pressure on the
economy and government resources." The longer term outlook is also
pessimistic, based on an estimate by the Chinese Academy of Social
Sciences, revealed by Cai Fang, deputy director. "By 2050, one-third
of the country will be aged 60 years or older, and there will be fewer
workers supporting each retired person."
Although many critics of China's reproductive restrictions approve of
the policy's abolition,
Amnesty International said that the move to
the two-child policy would not end forced sterilizations, forced
abortions, or government control over birth permits. Others
also stated that the abolition is not a sign of the relaxation of
authoritarian control in China. A reporter for
CNN said, "It was not a
sign that the party will suddenly start respecting personal freedoms
more than it has in the past. No, this is a case of the party
adjusting policy to conditions. ... The new policy, raising the limit
to two children per couple, preserves the state's role." The
abolition may not achieve a significant benefit, as the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation analysis indicated: "Repealing the one-child
policy may not spur a huge baby boom, however, in part because
fertility rates are believed to be declining even without the policy's
enforcement. Previous easings of the one-child policy have spurred
fewer births than expected, and many people among China's younger
generations see smaller family sizes as ideal." The
adds that China's new prosperity is also a factor in the declining
birth rate, saying, "Couples naturally decide to have fewer children
as they move from the fields into the cities, become more educated,
and when women establish careers outside the home."
The one-child policy was managed by the National
Population and Family
Planning Commission under the central government since 1981. The
Health of the People's Republic of
China and the National
Health and Family Planning Commission were made defunct and a new
National Health and Family Planning Commission
National Health and Family Planning Commission took over
national health and family planning policies in 2013. The agency
reports to the State Council.
The policy was enforced at the provincial level through fines that
were imposed based on the income of the family and other factors.
Population and Family Planning Commissions" existed at every level of
government to raise awareness and carry out registration and
China had small family by 1978 before start of one-child policy in
According to a 2017 study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, it
is complicated to evaluate the effects of the one-child policy on
family outcomes because the Chinese government had already enacted
aggressive family planning policy before the introduction of the
one-child policy; seen a sharp drop in fertility rates before the
enactment of the one-child policy; the one-child policy coincided with
Chinese economic reform
Chinese economic reform which would have contributed to reduced
fertility rates; and other developing East Asian countries also
experienced sharp declines in fertility rates. According to the
study, "In general, very different views exist on how the one-child
policy affected fertility: one group of studies argued that the
one-child policy had a significant or decisive effect on fertility in
China, while another group argued that socioeconomic development
played a key role in China’s fertility decline. A plausible
reconciliation of these views is that the one-child policy accelerated
the already-occurring drop in fertility for a few years, but in the
longer term, economic development played a more fundamental role in
leading to and maintaining China’s low fertility level. To put it
more bluntly, China’s fertility might well have dropped to the
current low level with rapid economic development, even without the
one-child policy, although the timeline of the decline would not
appear quite the same."
Continuation of demographic transition
China and Demographic transition
The progression of China's population pyramid, International
The fertility rate in
China continued its fall from 2.8 births per
woman in 1979 (already a sharp reduction from more than five births
per woman in the early 1970s) to 1.5 in 2010. This is similar to
demographic transition seen in Thailand, Indian states of Kerala,
Tamil Nadu which have undergone similar changes in fertility rates
without a one-child policy. China’s one-child policy
significantly accelerated the advent of an aging society, radically
altered the structure of the population, and helped create an aging
population. While the policy may have achieved the stated
demographic goals of preventing an estimated 200 million or more
births (the official claim is 400 million), it produced many
unintended and far-reaching consequences. These include a deficit of
40 million female babies, mostly as a direct consequence of illegal
sex-selective abortions, and a population with an artificially large
Disparity in sex ratio at birth
The sex ratio at birth in People's Republic of China, males per 100
Further information: Missing women of China
The sex ratio of a newborn infant (between male and female births) in
China reached 117:100, and stabilized between 2000 and 2013,
substantially higher than the natural baseline, which ranges between
103:100 and 107:100. It had risen from 108:100 in 1981—at the
boundary of the natural baseline—to 111:100 in 1990. According
to a report by the National
Population and Family Planning Commission,
there will be 30 million more men than women in 2020, potentially
leading to social instability, and courtship-motivated emigration.
The disparity in the gender ratio at birth increases dramatically
after the first birth, for which the ratios remained steadily within
the natural baseline over the 20 year interval between 1980 and 1999.
Thus, a large majority of couples appear to accept the outcome of the
first pregnancy, whether it is a boy or a girl. If the first child is
a girl, and they are able to have a second child, then a couple may
take extraordinary steps to assure that the second child is a boy. If
a couple already has two or more boys, the sex ratio of higher parity
births swings decidedly in a feminine direction. This demographic
evidence indicates that while families highly value having male
offspring, a secondary norm of having a girl or having some balance in
the sexes of children often comes into play. Zeng 1993 reported a
study based on the 1990 census in which they found sex ratios of just
65 or 70 boys per 100 girls for births in families that already had
two or more boys. A study by Anderson & Silver (1995) found a
similar pattern among both Han and non-Han nationalities in Xinjiang
Province: a strong preference for girls in high parity births in
families that had already borne two or more boys. This tendency to
favour girls in high parity births to couples who had already borne
sons was later also noted by Coale and Banister, who suggested as well
that once a couple had achieved its goal for the number of males, it
was also much more likely to engage in "stopping behavior", i.e., to
stop having more children.
The long-term disparity has led to a significant gender imbalance or
skewing of the sex ratio. As reported by the Canadian Broadcasting
China has between 32 million and 36 million
more males than would be expected naturally, and this has led to
social problems. "Because of a traditional preference for baby boys
over girls, the one-child policy is often cited as the cause of
China's skewed sex ratio ... Even the government acknowledges the
problem and has expressed concern about the tens of millions of young
men who won't be able to find brides and may turn to kidnapping women,
sex trafficking, other forms of crime or social unrest." The
situation will not improve in the near future. According to the
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, there will be 24 million more men
than women of marriageable age by 2020.
According to a 2017 study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives,
"existing studies indicate either a modest or minimal effect of the
fertility change induced by the one-child policy on children
A roadside sign in rural Sichuan: "It is forbidden to discriminate
against, mistreat or abandon baby girls."
The one-child policy of
China made it more expensive for parents with
children to adopt, which may have had an effect upon the numbers of
children living in state-sponsored orphanages. However, in the 1980s
and early 1990s, poor care and high mortality rates in some state
institutions generated intense international pressure for
In the 1980s, adoptions accounted for half of the so-called "missing
girls". Through the 1980s, as the one-child policy came into
force, parents who desired a son but had a daughter often failed to
report or delayed reporting female births to the authorities. Some
parents may have offered up their daughters for formal or informal
adoption. A majority of children who went through formal adoption in
China in the later 1980s were girls, and the proportion who were girls
increased over time.
In an interview with
National Public Radio
National Public Radio on October 30, 2015, Adam
Pertman, president and CEO of the National Center on
Permanency, indicated that many young girls were adopted by citizens
of other countries, particularly the United States, a trend which has
been declining for some years. "The infant girls of yesteryear have
not been available, if you will, for five, seven years.
China has been
... trying to keep the girls within the country ... And the
consequence is that, today, rather than those young girls who used to
be available – primarily girls – today, it's older children,
children with special needs, children in sibling groups. It's very,
Since there are no penalties for multiple births, it is believed that
an increasing number of couples are turning to fertility medicines to
induce the conception of twins. According to a 2006
report, the number of twins born per year was estimated to have
Quality of life for women
The one-child policy has played a major role in improving the quality
of life for women in China. For thousands of years, girls have held a
lower status in Chinese households. However, the one-child policy's
limit on the number of children has prompted parents of women to start
investing money in their well-being. As a result of being an only
child, women have increased opportunity to receive an education, and
support to get better jobs. One of the side effects of the one-child
policy is to have liberated women from heavy duties in terms of taking
care of many children and the family in the past; instead women had a
lot of spare time for themselves to pursue their career or hobbies.
The other major "side effect" of the one child policy is that the
traditional concepts of gender roles between men and women have
weakened. Being one and the only "chance" the parents have, women are
expected to compete with peer men for better educational resources or
career opportunities. Especially in cities where one-child policy was
much more regulated and enforced, expectations on women to succeed in
life are no less than on men. 
It is reported that the focus of
China on population planning helps
provide a better health service for women and a reduction in the risks
of death and injury associated with pregnancy. At family planning
offices, women receive free contraception and pre-natal classes that
contributed to the policy's success in two respects. First, the
average Chinese household expends fewer resources, both in terms of
time and money, on children, which gives many Chinese people more
money with which to invest. Second, since Chinese adults can no longer
rely on children to care for them in their old age, there is an
impetus to save money for the future.
A government sign in Tangshan Township: "For a prosperous, powerful
nation and a happy family, please practice family planning."
As the first generation of law-enforced only-children came of age for
becoming parents themselves, one adult child was left with having to
provide support for his or her two parents and four
grandparents. Called the "4-2-1 Problem", this leaves the
older generations with increased chances of dependency on retirement
funds or charity in order to receive support. If personal savings,
pensions, or state welfare fail, most senior citizens would be left
entirely dependent upon their very small family or neighbours for
assistance. If, for any reason, the single child is unable to care for
their older adult relatives, the oldest generations would face a lack
of resources and necessities. In response to such an issue, all
provinces have decided[when?] that couples are allowed to have two
children if both parents were only children themselves: By 2007, all
provinces in the nation except
Henan had adopted this new
Henan followed in 2011.
Further information: Heihaizi
Heihaizi (Chinese: 黑孩子; pinyin: hēiháizi) or "black child" is
a term denoting children born outside the one-child policy, or
generally children who are not registered in the Chinese national
household registration system.
Being excluded from the family register (in effect, a birth
certificate), they do not legally exist and as a result cannot access
most public services, such as education and health care, and do not
receive protection under the law.
Potential social problems
See also: Shidu (bereavement), a social phenomenon denoting the loss
of an only child
Some parents may over-indulge their only child. The media referred to
the indulged children in one-child families as "little emperors".
Since the 1990s, some people have worried that this will result in a
higher tendency toward poor social communication and cooperation
skills amongst the new generation, as they have no siblings at home.
No social studies have investigated the ratio of these over-indulged
children and to what extent they are indulged. With the first
generation of children born under the policy (which initially became a
requirement for most couples with first children born starting in 1979
and extending into the 1980s) reaching adulthood, such worries were
However, the "little emperor syndrome" and additional expressions,
describing the generation of Chinese singletons are very abundant in
the Chinese media, Chinese academia and popular discussions. Being
over-indulged, lacking self-discipline and having no adaptive
capabilities are traits that are highly associated with Chinese
Some 30 delegates called on the government in the Chinese People's
Political Consultative Conference in March 2007 to abolish the
one-child rule, citing "social problems and personality disorders in
young people". One statement read, "It is not healthy for children to
play only with their parents and be spoiled by them: it is not right
to limit the number to two children per family, either." The
proposal was prepared by Ye Tingfang, a professor at the Chinese
Academy of Social Sciences, who suggested that the government at least
restore the previous rule that allowed couples to have up to two
children. According to a scholar, "The one-child limit is too extreme.
It violates nature's law. And in the long run, this will lead to
mother nature's revenge."
Reports surfaced of Chinese women giving birth to their second child
overseas, a practice known as birth tourism. Many went to Hong Kong,
which is exempt from the one-child policy. Likewise, a Hong Kong
passport differs from
China mainland passport by providing additional
advantages. Recently though, the
Hong Kong government has drastically
reduced the quota of births set for non-local women in public
hospitals. As a result, fees for delivering babies there have surged.
As further admission cuts or a total ban on non-local births in Hong
Kong are being considered, mainland agencies that arrange for
expectant mothers to give birth overseas are predicting a surge in
those going to North America.
United States practises birthright citizenship, all children
born in the US will automatically have US citizenship. The closest US
Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, a US
dependency in the western Pacific Ocean that allows Chinese visitors
without visa restrictions. As of 2012, the island was experiencing an
upswing in Chinese births, since birth tourism there had become
cheaper than to Hong Kong. This option is used by relatively affluent
Chinese who often have secondary motives as well, wishing their
children to be able to leave mainland
China when they grow older or
bring their parents to the US. Canada, compared to US, is less
achievable as their government denies many visa requests.
The policy is controversial outside
China for many reasons, including
accusations of human rights abuses in the implementation of the
policy, as well as concerns about negative social consequences.
Statement of the effect of the policy on birth reduction
The Chinese government, quoting Zhai Zhenwu, director of Renmin
University's School of Sociology and
Population in Beijing, estimates
that 400 million births were prevented by the one-child policy as
of 2011, while some demographers challenge that number, putting the
figure at perhaps half that level, according to CNN. Zhai
clarified that the 400 million estimate referred not just to the
one-child policy, but includes births prevented by predecessor
policies implemented one decade before, stating that "there are many
different numbers out there but it doesn't change the basic fact that
the policy prevented a really large number of births".
This claim is disputed by Wang Feng, director of the
Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy, and Cai Yong from the
Population Center at University of North Carolina Chapel
Hill Wang claims that "Thailand and
China have had almost
identical fertility trajectories since the mid 1980s", and "Thailand
does not have a one-child policy." China's
Health Ministry has
also disclosed that at least 336 million abortions were performed
on account of the policy.
According to a report by the US Embassy, scholarship published by
Chinese scholars and their presentations at the October 1997 Beijing
conference of the International Union for the Scientific Study of
Population seemed to suggest that market-based incentives or
increasing voluntariness is not morally better but that it is in the
end more effective. In 1988, Zeng Yi and Professor T. Paul
Yale University discussed the effect of the transformation
to the market on Chinese fertility, arguing that the introduction of
the contract responsibility system in agriculture during the early
1980s weakened family planning controls during that period. Zeng
contended that the "big cooking pot" system of the People's Communes
had insulated people from the costs of having many children. By the
late 1980s, economic costs and incentives created by the contract
system were already reducing the number of children farmers wanted.
A long-term experiment in a county in Shanxi Province, in which the
family planning law was suspended, suggested that families would not
have many more children even if the law were abolished. A 2003
review of the policy-making process behind the adoption of the
one-child policy shows that less intrusive options, including those
that emphasized delay and spacing of births, were known but not fully
considered by China's political leaders.
Corrupted government officials and especially wealthy individuals have
often been able to violate the policy in spite of fines.
Filmmaker Zhang Yimou had three children and was subsequently fined
7.48 million yuan ($1.2 million). For example, between
2000 and 2005, as many as 1,968 officials in central China's Hunan
province were found to be violating the policy, according to the
provincial family planning commission; also exposed by the commission
were 21 national and local lawmakers, 24 political advisors, 112
entrepreneurs and 6 senior intellectuals.
Some of the offending officials did not face penalties, although
the government did respond by raising fines and calling on local
officials to "expose the celebrities and high-income people who
violate the family planning policy and have more than one child".
Also, people who lived in the rural areas of
China were allowed to
have two children without punishment, although the family is required
to wait a couple of years before having another child.
Human rights violations
Human rights in China
The one-child policy has been challenged for violating a human right
to determine the size of one's own proper family. According to a 1968
proclamation of the International Conference on Human Rights, "Parents
have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the
number and the spacing of their children."
According to the UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph, a quota of 20,000
abortions and sterilizations was set for
Huaiji County in Guangdong
Province in one year due to reported disregard of the one-child
policy. According to the article local officials were being pressured
into purchasing portable ultrasound devices to identify abortion
candidates in remote villages. The article also reported that women as
far along as 8.5 months pregnant were forced to abort, usually by an
injection of saline solution. A 1993 book by social scientist,
Steven W. Mosher, reported that women in their ninth month of
pregnancy, or already in labour, were having their children killed
whilst in the birth canal or immediately after birth.
According to a 2005 news report by Australian Broadcasting Corporation
correspondent, John Taylor,
China outlawed the use of physical force
to make a woman submit to an abortion or sterilization in 2002 but
ineffectively enforces the measure. In 2012, Feng Jianmei, a
villager from central China's Shaanxi province was forced into an
abortion by local officials after her family refused to pay the fine
for having a second child. Chinese authorities have since apologized
and two officials were fired, while five others were sanctioned.
In the past,
China promoted eugenics as part of its population
planning policies, but the government has backed away from such
policies, as evidenced by China's ratification of the Convention on
the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which compels the nation to
significantly reform its genetic testing laws. Recent[when?]
research has also emphasized the necessity of understanding a myriad
of complex social relations that affect the meaning of informed
consent in China. Furthermore, in 2003,
China revised its
marriage registration regulations and couples no longer have to submit
to a pre-marital physical or genetic examination before being granted
a marriage license.
Population Fund's (UNFPA) support for family
planning in China, which has been associated with the One-Child policy
in the United States, led the
United States Congress to pull out of
the UNFPA during the Reagan administration, and again under
George W. Bush's presidency, citing human rights abuses and
stating that the right to "found a family" was protected under the
Preamble in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. President
Obama resumed U.S. government financial support for the UNFPA shortly
after taking office in 2009, intending to "work collaboratively to
reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent
HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154
Effect on infanticide rates
Sex-selected abortion, abandonment, and infanticide are illegal in
China. Nevertheless, the
United States Department of State, the
Parliament of the United Kingdom, and the human rights
organization Amnesty International have all declared that
infanticide still exists. A writer for the Georgetown
Journal of International Affairs wrote, "The 'one-child' policy has
also led to what Amartya Sen first called 'Missing Women', or the
100 million girls 'missing' from the populations of
other developing countries) as a result of female infanticide,
abandonment, and neglect".
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation offered the following summary as
to the long term effects of sex-selective abortion and abandonment of
female infants: "Multiple research studies have also found that
sex-selective abortion – where a woman undergoes an ultrasound to
determine the sex of her baby, and then aborts it if it's a girl –
was widespread for years, particularly for second or subsequent
children. Millions of female fetuses have been aborted since the
China outlawed sex selective abortions in 2005, but the law is
tough to enforce because of the difficulty of proving why a couple
decided to have an abortion. The abandonment, and killing, of baby
girls has also been reported, though recent research studies say it
has become rare, in part due to strict criminal prohibitions."
G. William Skinner at the University of California,
Davis and Chinese researcher Yuan Jianhua have claimed that
infanticide was fairly common in
China before the 1990s.
In popular culture
Ball, David (2002).
China Run. Simon & Schuster.
ISBN 0-74322743-3. A novel about an American woman who
China to adopt an orphan of the one-child policy, only to
find herself a fugitive when the Chinese government informs her that
she has been given "the wrong baby".
The prevention of a state-imposed abortion during labor to conform
with the one child policy is a key plot point in Tom Clancy's novel
The Bear and the Dragon.
The difficulties of implementing the one-child policy are dramatized
in Mo Yan's novel Frog (2009; English translation by Howard Goldblatt,
Avoiding the family-planning enforcers is at the heart of Ma Jian's
novel The Dark Road (translated by Flora Drew, 2013).
Novelist Lu Min writes about her own family's experience with the One
Child Policy in her essay "A Second Pregnancy, 1980" (translated by
Helen Wang, 2015).
Xue, Xinran (2015). Buy Me the Sky. Rider (imprint).
ISBN 978-1-8460-4471-7. Tells the stories of the children
brought up under China's one-child policy and the effect that has had
on their lives, families and ability to deal with life's challenges.
Fong, Mei (2016). One Child: The Story of China's Most Radical
Experiment. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 9780544275393.
Shidu (bereavement), denoting the loss of an only child
The Dying Rooms
Abortion in China
Demographics of China
Human population planning
List of countries and dependencies by population
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末 人 数 出生率‰ 符合政策生育人数 符合政策生育%
人 数 符合政策生育人数 其中：女孩人数 一孩率% 人
数 符合政策生育人数 其中：女孩人数 二孩率% 人 数
符合政策生育人数 其中：女孩人数 多孩率% 人 数
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