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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs