Is China really easing its one-child policy?

The mainstream media has run misleading stories that Red China is relaxing its one-child policy. The Wall Street Journal reports that the communist government will now allow parents to have two children if one of the parents is an only child. A document released on Nov. 15 after a four-day meeting of top Communist officials, which the WSJ called “the first comprehensive road map for reform under new Chinese President Xi Jinping,” laid out this modification to Beijing’s one-child policy as part of a package of reforms intended to respond to the country’s economic and social challenges.

China already permits a second child if both parents are only children themselves. There are also exceptions for rural populations, some pilot programs, and ethnic minorities.

Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, writes that the new modification will only “tweak” Red China’s one-child policy. In a piece for National Review Online, she reports that Xinhua News Agency ran an article titled “Birth Policy Changes Are No Big Deal” to quell optimistic expectations brought about by its first report: “China to Ease One-Child Policy.”

Wang Pei’an, deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, told Xinhua that only a small number of couples would be covered by the new policy and that regions would be free to start implementing it whenever they wished while keeping “a reasonable birth interval to avoid birth accumulation.” This means that women who get pregnant too soon after the first birth could be forced to abort. Wang also said that “the basic state policy of family planning will be adhered to over a long period of time.”

Littlejohn said, “even though it will now allow some couples to have a second child, China has not promised to end forced abortion, forced sterilization, or forced contraception.” She warned: “Regardless of the number of children allowed, women who get pregnant without permission will still be dragged out of their homes, strapped down to tables, and forced to abort babies that they want, even up to the ninth month of pregnancy.”

Littlejohn also points to a study from the 2009 British Medical Journal showing that even a two-child policy would not end gendercide. According to the report based on data from the 2005 Chinese census, when the first child born was a girl, the gender ratio of the second child was 160 boys to 100 girls.

Littlejohn criticized the Western media’s reaction to the policy. “Such headlines are detrimental to sincere efforts to stop forced abortion in China, because they imply that the one-child policy is no longer a problem,” she explained. “The one-child policy does not need to be adjusted. It needs to be abolished.”

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