China's Two Child Policy

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Overview

Two Child Policy

On December 27, 2015 The People's Republic of China incorporated a new family planning policy under the law that allows all married couples to have two children, known as the universal two-child policy.[1] This decision was adopted by the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC), and came in effective on January 1st, 2016.[2][3] The decision was first announced on October 29th, 2015 by Communist Party after a four day party summit.[4][5]

The main concern that lead to this change was due to China's ageing population that could potentially jeopardize China's economic and social development.[6][7] Nonetheless, at this point it is still hard to determine how affective this new policy would be. Especially for large cities and urban centres, the high living and educational cost would discourage families to have a second child.[8] This new policy officially ended the 40 years of One Child Policy in China and should be considered as a turning point for the Chinese Society.[9]

Preview: China's One Child Policy

Before the New Two Child Policy, China has already been following another family planning policy for over three decades. The One Child Policy has been in place since the end of 1970s as a government policy to slow down the rapid increase of population growth after the establishment of the People's Republic of China.

Current Vice Minister of National Health and Family Planning Comission, Wang Pai'an, claims that the One Child Family Planning Policy has effectively promoted economic development, social progress and people's well-being in China, which lead to a moderately prosperous society in all respects.[10] However, there are many debates surrounding the ethics and effectiveness of the policy. The One Child Policy has also created many demographic, cultural, economic, and social consequences;[11] especially on making women the main victims suffering from the negative outcomes. Women's reproduction rights, social status, physical and mental wellness were and still are severely jeopardized by this policy, despite whether they are in a urban or rural setting.[12][13]

Nonetheless, some argues that the younger generation urban females, or the urban daughters, are actually empowered through the one child policy because they now receive full family attention and educational investment from their parents. [14] This is significant since China is a male dominant society, in which sons are preferred over daughters. Therefore female usually gets less attention and educational investment when they have male siblings.

Impact on Women in China

There are may ways the the New Two Child Policy can impact China's economy, demographic and social construction. However, a centre of discussion is how would this new policy affects women in China? Many celebrates this new policy as a new big step towards women's freedom in giving birth. However, it also receives a backlash of suspicions and criticisms on how effective the new policy will actually be on addressing certain issues such as gender imbalance and forced abortion.[15] Especially from a human rights activists perspective, the new policy is a fails triumph and still remains an assault on human rights because of the policy's coercive nature.[16] Some feminists in China agree that One-Child Policy should be terminated; however, they also criticize that the new Two-Policy does not give women back their childbirth rights. Women still faces pressure from their families, which now instead of legal compulsory, would pressure them into having the second child, under the name of carrying on the family line.[17] [18] Therefore, women in China quickly becomes the centre of this debate, since they are the major demographic group that will continue to be largely influenced by these family planning policies.[19]

Women in the Work Force

Since the establishment of People's Republic of China in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party has been trying to mobilize women to work in the state-run economy, and this increased China's cheap labour force.However, women has always been treated unfairly in the work force through their income, benefits and also maternity leave. [20] Although women are now allowed to have a second child, this actually puts women in a disadvantaged position in workforce. Many women are again forced to face the dilemma between family and career; and under the fear of loosing a stable job, alongside not having enough time to raise their kid, majority of them would not consider to bear a second child [21]. Therefore, the new Two-Child Policy does not empower women's childbirth rights since there are not enough supporting policies. Under the new Two - Child Policy, this trend would most likely get worse and place women under more competition against male applicants during job application process.

From an employer's point of view, women at child bearing age might not be favourable because the company needs to consider the time of their maternity leave. Job positions that requires frequent business trips and long working hours are often explicitly looking for male employers. Now with the New Two Child Policy, employers are even more concerned that female employers will have to leave their positions twice as long as before. Although some employers says that the new policy would not affect their recruitment process, many women thinks that they will prefer hiring male applicants over female, which makes job hunting extremely difficult for women.[22] Especially for young female graduates who just came out of college and universities, many of them face gender bias when applying for jobs. Even the spokesman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, Pei'an Wang, said in October that "Women are likely to face increased employment difficulties and workplace prejudices as a direct result of the two-child policy."[23]

Future Vision

Comparing to over 40 years of China's One Child Policy, the new Two Child Policy is still in its early stage. Therefore it is still difficult to foresee what significant impacts it has on China's demographic, economic and public society in the long run. More academic research and observation will have to be conducted in the future in order to better evaluate the influences of China's Two Child Policy.

References

  1. Time News http://time.com/4161746/china-two-child-policy/
  2. People's Republic of China State Council Website http://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2015-12/28/content_5028414.htm
  3. Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/law/foreign-news/article/china-two-child-policy-becomes-law/
  4. Xinhua Net http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-10/29/c_134763645.htm
  5. The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/29/china-abandons-one-child-policy
  6. BBC News http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34665539
  7. Song, Yu. "Losing an Only Child: The One-Child Policy and Elderly Care in China." Reproductive Health Matters 22.43 (2014): 113-24
  8. New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/world/asia/china-end-one-child-policy.html?_r=0
  9. Xinhua Net http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-10/29/c_134763645.htm
  10. National Health and Family Planning Commission Website http://en.nhfpc.gov.cn/2015-11/06/c_45715.htm
  11. Howden, D., & Zhou, Y. (2014). China’s One-Child Policy: Some Unintended Consequences. Economic Affairs, 34(3), 360.
  12. Nie, Jing-Bao. "China's One-Child Policy, a Policy without a Future." Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 23.3 (2014): 272-87
  13. Milwertz CN . Accepting Population Control: Urban Chinese Women and the One-Child Family Policy . Surrey, UK : Curzon Press ; 1997
  14. Fong, Vanessa L. "China's One-Child Policy and the Empowerment of Urban Daughters." American Anthropologist 104.4 (2002)
  15. The Diplomat http://thediplomat.com/2015/12/the-truth-about-chinas-two-child-policy/
  16. Oxford Human Rights Hub http://ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/the-two-child-policy-an-assault-on-human-rights/
  17. China US Force http://www.chinausfocus.com/political-social-development/how-will-chinas-new-2-child-policy-affect-working-women/
  18. Fenghuang News http://news.ifeng.com/a/20151030/46058531_0.shtml
  19. CCTV America http://www.cctv-america.com/2016/03/08/two-child-policy-reform-changes-the-lives-of-chinese-women
  20. Bloomberg http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-10/kids-or-jobs-china-s-career-women-hit-by-two-child-policy
  21. China US Force http://www.chinausfocus.com/political-social-development/how-will-chinas-new-2-child-policy-affect-working-women/
  22. Chongqing Liangxiang Government News http://english.liangjiang.gov.cn/2016-02/25/content_23660972.htm
  23. China Org http://www.china.org.cn/china/2015-11/20/content_37113154.htm