News / Asia

China to Loosen One-Child Policy

A paramilitary soldier stands guard behind a chain as the giant portrait of the late Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong is seen in the background in Tiananmen square, Nov. 12, 2013.
A paramilitary soldier stands guard behind a chain as the giant portrait of the late Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong is seen in the background in Tiananmen square, Nov. 12, 2013.
China says that it plans to ease its one-child policy and abolish a controversial system of re-education through labor that often arbitrarily puts activists and those who would challenge the Communist Party behind bars. The announcement, along with other significant reforms, comes days after China wrapped up a key closed-door policy meeting in Beijing.

This week's summit was notable for the lack concrete detail that left many wondering just what the road ahead for reform in China would look like. But late Friday, the Communist Party revealed a more complete plan for reform from now until 2020.
The lengthy document outlined 60 tasks the party aims to tackle in that period. The wide-ranging reforms include long anticipated economic changes as well as cultural, political, social and environmental reforms.
According to the reform plans, China’s state-run companies will face more competition from private enterprises in the future and limits would be eased on foreign investments in areas such as e-commerce and other businesses.
For three decades, China’s economy has been booming. But this year it is expected to grow at its weakest pace in 23 years.  The plans announced Friday mark one of China’s biggest economic overhauls since the early 1990s.
In addition to economic reforms, the plans will include changes to social policies that have long been a source of domestic as well as international criticism for China.
The Xinhua news agency reports that China will ease its one-child policy, which was first introduced in the late 1970s. According to the announcement, couples will now be allowed to have two children, if one of the parents is an only child.
Some activists have welcomed the changes, but noted the reforms failed to address basic problems that Chinese society now faces. China’s ruling Communist Party says it needs to slow population growth to conserve resources. But it is facing a dilemma as more Chinese retire and fewer enter the work place.
Chinese activist Yang Zhizhu says the proposed changes will continue to deny a basic human right and fail to address the country’s aging population.
“On the one hand, the government admits that the population is aging, but its birth control regulations fail to address that problem," he said. "The right to have children is something that has existed for thousands of years in the history of humanity."
Maya Wang (阿莲) is a China researcher with Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong.
“The fact that couples, [if] either of which is a single child, can have one more child, these kind of families can have two children now, doesn’t take away the fact that the entire system continues to violate women’s rights, in particular reproductive rights. So the term loosening has to be used in a cautious way,” said Wang.

The proposed changes said little, however, about those families that have more than one child who is not officially registered with the government. Chinese citizens all carry an internal passport called a hukou that is necessary for access to education, healthcare and jobs.

Officials in China estimate that there are currently about 13 million Chinese who lack such documents.

In addition to announcing curbs on its one-child policy, the Communist Party says it would work step by step to reduce the number of crimes that are subject to the death penalty. The party also says that it would abolish its re-education through labor system to, as it puts it, “protect human rights.”

Under the current system, police can sentence alleged offenders to years in labor camps without a trial. It is unclear what will replace the camps, which are estimated to hold as many as 190,000 people.
The system has long been a source of controversy. Rights activists say it is an important means for authorities to suppress activists and those who would speak up.
Maya Wang from Human Rights Watch says, "People who complain about the government, political activists, people who write columns criticizing the Chinese government have all been sent to these facilities to punish them for their activism. So this is why the abolition of the re-education through labor system is significant.”

Wang adds, however, that this is just one way that the Chinese government punishes dissent and not necessarily a sign that it will stop using other methods to do the same.

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: chelsea from: china
November 16, 2013 7:00 AM
For the first one child of the China,even now it is allowed to have another child,but my husband and I don't have courage to have another baby,because we are not young enough;what's more, it's quite expensive to have a baby,we need to speed lots of money to afford her/his education,foods,hospital charge.

by: Anonymous
November 15, 2013 1:13 PM
William Ide, Such a low classy picture. dis-pointed by ""

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs