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China Keeps ‘One-Child' Despite Acknowledging Gender Imbalance

The Chinese government will maintain its one-child policy for the coming year despite acknowledging that the policy has aggravated China’s worsening gender imbalance.
( [email protected] ) Jan 26, 2007 04:23 PM EST

The Chinese government will maintain its one-child policy for the coming year despite acknowledging that the policy has aggravated China’s worsening gender imbalance.

Beijing denies that the one-child policy is the only cause to the current skewed sex ratio, blaming the figures on the ingrained social tradition of favoring boys over girls, and the popular usage of ultrasound scanning technology to find and abort female fetuses.

China does not fully follow the “one-child policy” since the requirement only applies to 35.9 per cent of China’s 1.3 billion people, said Zhang Weiqing, dir. of the National Population and Family Commission in a report released Wednesday.

Zhang defended the nation’s much maligned family planning policy, pointing out that 52.9 per cent of the population is permitted to give birth to a second child if their first is a girl, while ethic minorities making up 1.6 per cent of the population are allowed at least two children. Other families depending on where they live are permitted to give birth to two children.

The same report also stated that there are 118 boys for every 100 girls and that the gap is growing. The report said that should the current birthrate continue, marriage-age men will outnumber women by 30 million, creating a “serious hidden danger that may lead to social disorder.”

In some cases, Chinese authorities experienced problems enforcing family planning especially in the cities where some wealthy urban couples have either traveled to Hong Kong to give birth or paid off corrupt officials to circumvent the existing one-child policy.

Beijing announced, Wednesday, that it will lower the fines for a second child for poorer families in an apparent response to a recent survey released by the Communist Party’s China Youth Daily revealing that 68 per cent of the respondents thought that it was unfair wealthy couples could “buy” more babies.

One third of the respondents in the Youth Daily survey also answered that they wanted to see tougher penalties than fines placed on offenders.

On Monday, the government-sponsored CCTV news network announced the central government planned to stunt mainland China’ population growth to no more than 1.36 billion people by 2010.

The nation’s current family policy appears to have had some effect as only 12,072 mainland Chinese women gave birth last year in contrast to that of 28,414 women in Hong Kong.

Nonetheless, China continues to struggle with an aging population, growing rich-poor gap, unemployment pressures and controversy surrounding continued reports of family planning abuses including forced abortions and sterility.