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China on verge of abandoning famous 'one child' rule

The country’s famous birth control policy – where families are only permitted to have one child or face fines – could be repealed.

Image: tboothhk via Flickr

CHINA IS UNDERSTOOD to be rethinking its controversial ‘family planning policy’ which dictates that families can only have one child or face massive fines.

The scheme is to be suspended in five areas next year, which will allow couples to give birth to a second child as long as one of its parents is an only child – a radical move that will certainly see a spurt in births, given that the ban came into effect in 1978.

Areas in Beijing, Shanghai and four other provinces will see the ban suspended in 2012. If the scheme reaps the desired effects (which are unclear), the policy could be lifted nationwide as early as 2013.

The decision to relax the infamous ban is a result of concerns over the country’s low birth rate, which authorities fear could lead to a pensions crisis in future years as the aging population lives longer.

The controversial policy is credited with reducing the country’s population by between 250 and 400 million since its introduction, though it has also been blamed for an increased in forced abortions and infanticide.

It has also been blamed for the country’s massive gender imbalance: there are 32 million more male people under 20 than there are females, a phenomenon that could be the result of rampant female infanticide and selective gender-motivated abortions.

There are some loopholes in the law as it currently exists – rural families can ask for permission to bear a second child if their first is a girl, or suffers from a physical disability.

Breaking the law results in hard-hitting fines and can even end up with offending parents being barred from promotion at their workplaces.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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