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.
William Ide
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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid