Under this strict and restrictive policy, those who were caught violating it were sentenced to four years in labor camps for the purpose of ‘reeducating’ them.
Indeed, for three decades this notorious system is given the full credit by China’s top legislative committee, the National People’s Congress, for its rapid transformation from mass poverty to become the second largest economy in the world.
But, while it kept the population growth in check and the strength of its economy has been able to surpass that of Japan, its long term effect, however, is making China’s leaders realize the negative impact of not having the adequate means of taking care of its aging population.
Not only that. The China Development Research Foundation (CDRF) said the policy had resulted in social conflict, high administrative costs and led indirectly to a long-term gender imbalance because of illegal abortions of female fetuses and the infanticide of baby girls by parents who cling to a traditional preference for a son.
Note that China’s family-planning policy currently limits most urban couples to one child and allows two children for rural families if their first-born is a girl. It also allows two children for parents who themselves are both singletons.
Finally the CDRF has urged China’s leaders to start phasing out the policy and allow two children for every family by 2015, saying the country had paid a “huge political and social cost”, while also abolishing the much criticized labor camp, more known as “laojiao” in China.
Demographers and policy makers have estimated the lifting of the one-child policy would benefit some 15 million to 20 million Chinese parents — mostly in cities — and result in 1 million to 2 million extra births per year in the first few years, on top of the 16 million babies born annually in China. They say the easing is so incremental that the extra births are not expected to strain resources such as the health care and education.
This is progress and a very welcomed event in the world’s most populous country with about 1.35 billion people.