The brutal One-Child Policy worked too well
Steven W. Mosher
Population Research Centre
June 1, 2021
The Chinese Communist Party has decided to allow Chinese couples to have three children.
The decision, made by top Communist leader Xi Jinping and other top leaders who sit on the Party’s politburo leadership committee, marks a stunning reversal of the earlier policy of limiting childbearing.
It also marks a further retreat from the disastrous one-child policy, which led to hundreds of millions of forced abortions and sterilizations, driving the birth rate in the world’s most populous country down to today’s historically low levels. The now defunct population control program, which started in 1980, set China’s population on an aging trajectory unmatched in human history.
“To actively respond to the aging of the population,” state media Xinhua brusquely reported on Monday, “a couple is permitted to have three children.”
China’s official fertility rate stands at 1.3 children per woman—well below the 2.1 needed to maintain the current population—but it is probably even lower in reality.
China’s National Bureau of Statistics reports that only 12 million babies were born in 2020. Not only is this 2.65 million fewer than were born in 2019, it is the lowest number of babies born in China since the great famine of 1961, when 42.5 million people starved to death.
China began haltingly encouraging more births in 2015, when it scrapped its one-child policy, but in the years since the birth rate has continued to fall.
Today, thanks to decades of misbegotten population control policies, China is literally dying, filling more coffins than cradles each year. Chinese Communist leaders, who see population as an element of national power, are desperate for more workers and soldiers.
Relaxing the existing limitation on the number of children a couple may have is only the first step.
If the Chinese people don’t “voluntarily” have more children, the Party will begin an escalating series of bribes, threats and punishments to ensure that they do. Forced pregnancy is coming to China sooner than we think.
But don’t just take my word for it.
As Jennifer Zeng has pointed out, lower level Party officials have been suggesting for some time that the Party must take stern measures to solve the problem of China’s aging population—without mentioning that it is the Party itself, with its brutal one-child policy, that caused the problem in the first place.
In 2018, for instance, leading Chinese professor Nie Shengzhe wrote that “Only the strong leadership of the Party can solve this problem … of a catastrophic population decline.” His proposals, some of which the Party leadership will surely adopt in years to come, include:
- Party cadres should take the lead in having two, three or four children, and give priority to promoting party cadres that have more children.
- The Party Central Committee should establish strict control over the sale of condoms and contraceptives and forbid hospitals from performing abortions.
- The Party’s propaganda department should vigorously propagandize the ideas that ‘more children bring many blessings’ and ‘one is too few, two is not enough, three is good, four is the best’.
- Those Party members of childbearing age who use contraceptives when having sex should be punished.
Prof. Nie suggests that this kind of selective breeding program on the part of the Chinese Communist Party will pay political benefits. He writes: “The more children that Party members have, the more the Red Gene will dominate in the population, the higher the political quality of the population will be … and the fewer political difficulties we will encounter.”
Realistically, however, the 94 million members of the Chinese Communist Party will not, all by themselves, be able to avert China’s population crash. There are simply too few of them.
The kinds of measures that Prof. Nie talks about above—banning contraception, sterilization, and abortion, and punishing those who violate these bans—will have to be imposed on the entire population to avert demographic disaster.
As I say, forced pregnancy is coming to China sooner than you think.