On the way to work this morning, I was listening to my local NPR station and heard a brief news clip about China’s one-child policy. According to the announcement, despite acknowledging that the policy has created a growing gender gap China is not making plans to change its policy of population control. As I was listening to this story, there was one thing not mentioned so as soon as I logged on to my computer at work, I did a search for the story.
Over 275 media reports about this announcement came up on my search, including some reports that stated the opposite. In The Australian, China relaxes its one-child policy reports that China is changing its policy. However, most of the stories like this one by The Globe and Mail (and the NPR report) are stating that China is not changing its policy.
Either way, China has recognized that its policy is to blame for the current practices of gender selected abortions and infanticide. According to The Globe and Mail, "The easy availability of ultrasound to determine fetal gender has also added to the imbalance, as many women choose to abort girls in keeping with China’s traditional preference for boys."
And in The Australian, the Minister for Population Planning, Zhang Weiqing, stated on Tuesday that their new plan:
". . . aimed to stabilise China’s overall fertility rate at about 1.8 children per couple, while also addressing the imbalance in the ratio of boys to girls. He said this ratio was about 1.18:1 and was still widening as access to ultrasound testing – leading to the abortion of girls – increased, a development that "presents a very severe challenge to the Government." He called for "very strict punishment for abortions which have no medical purpose."
I thought it was very interesting that the numbers of girls that are adopted out of the country was never mentioned in any of the articles or the NPR report. In the statistics given by political and government talking heads, do those numbers include the girls that are born and abandoned or relinquished to orphanages, or do those only include the girls that are actually kept in the family? According to Mr. Zhang,
". . . the government has committed itself to solving the imbalance within 10 to 15 years with education campaigns, punishments for sex-selective abortions, and rewards – such as retirement pensions – for parents who have girls."
Nowhere is the mention of domestic adoption programs – one way of ensuring that the country does not become, as The Globe and Mail predicts, "an explosion of social unrest from a growing army of unmarried men."