BEIJING, China – An official Chinese state media outlet has denied any imminent change to the country’s national two-child policy. The announcement follows media speculation that such a change was being considered in response to China’s rapidly aging population.
On Aug. 27, family-planning related clauses were removed from China’s marriage and adoption laws leading many major media outlets to report that this could signal an upcoming change for the two-child policy.
Chinese authorities responded on Aug. 28 with two explanatory articles in the China Daily, the state-sponsored English-language newspaper, which provided explanations from legislators that these “family planning-related clauses” were only removed to eliminate redundancy; the Population and Family Planning Law that stipulates that couples can have only two children still remains on the books.
China has strictly controlled its population for nearly four decades through a government policy of contraception, abortion, and sterilization.
Its former one-child policy was expanded in 2015 to a limit of two children per family in response to the growing age imbalance facing the country, with nearly 10 percent of the population over the age of 65.
“The statement from China Daily does not eliminate the possibility that China is considering the abolition of its brutal population control program. It does, however, clarify that the deletion of family planning content from the civil code sections on marriage and adoption law is irrelevant to this potential policy change,” explained Reggie Littlejohn, the president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, a pro-life aid and advocacy organization focused on China.
Whether the standing committee of the National People’s Congress will amend the Population and Family Planning Law due to the changing demographic situation in the country “requires further consideration,” according to one of the publications.
Earlier this month, concerns were raised that Chinese population control efforts could reverse course entirely when two researchers proposed that the Chinese government force couples with fewer than two children to pay into a “procreation fund.”
“Given the desperation the Chinese government faces because of its rapidly aging population, I could see a move by the Chinese government to pressure all couples who are eligible to have a second child into having a second child, whether they want a second child or not,” commented Littlejohn, “The Chinese Government needs to stop functioning as womb police and let go of the idea that women’s bodies are domain of the state.”
“We continue to press for the complete elimination of all coercive population control measures, effective immediately. Now, under the two-child policy, all couples can have two children. Single women and third children, however, remain at risk for forced abortion,” she continued.
There have been at least 336 million abortions and 196 million sterilizations in China since the government first implemented population control measures, according to 2013 statistics from its national health ministry.