ChurchMilitant.com spoke with Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute and expert on China, to get his reaction to the two-child policy announced today by the Communist Party. His full statement follows.
The Chinese government is apparently ready to ease the stranglehold it has had on reproduction in that country since the late seventies — a little bit. Under the new policy, married Chinese couples will be allowed not one, but two children.
"The regime is backing away from draconian birth limits," says Steven Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute, "not because senior Party officials have suddenly developed a conscience. Rather, it will be because they have finally realized that a shrinking workforce and a rapidly aging population are crippling future economic growth."
For at least the past two years, China's workforce has been shrinking. Last year, the potential workforce fell by 3.71 million, a significant number even by China's standards. At the same time, the over-60 population is exploding. According to U.N. projections, it is expected to more than double by 2050. China is growing old before it grows rich, and the strains on China's nascent pension programs will be enormous.
Mosher says, "Beijing now realizes that it must stop restricting childbirth and start encouraging it as soon as possible. Yet it can't simply abandon the policy altogether and admit it made a mistake. That would call the regime's legitimacy into question."
The parallels between China's current demographic and economic malaise and Japan's demographic and economic decline in the 1990s is striking. The Japanese economy has never really recovered from its "demographic recession." China may not recover either.
The One Child Policy has caused fertility rates to plummet over the past three and half decades. Sex-selective abortion has reached epidemic proportions in many parts of the country. The strong preference for sons in Chinese culture, especially in rural areas, has resulted in the deaths of millions of unborn baby girls.
The overall loss of human life in China is staggering. China's own Ministry of Health estimated in 2013 that 336 million babies had been aborted as a result of the onerous population control program. With an estimated 13 million abortions taking place in China every year — almost 1,500 lives per hour — the number is likely significantly higher today.
Chinese President Xi Jinping first sought to loosen the policy in 2013. It was announced that couples where both the husband and the wife were themselves only children would be allowed to have a second child following the birth of their first. The response was underwhelming as few couples applied for a second birth "permit."
Mosher says, "Now couples are allowed to have a second child. But don't expect it to stop there. A government bent on controlling the fertility of its people will do whatever necessary to produce the number of children it thinks necessary."
After all, the One Child Policy is only one phase of the larger Planned Birth campaign. This is Beijing's ongoing campaign to control the reproduction of the Chinese people under a state plan in the same way that it controls the number of tanks, or the number of coal-fired power plants, that it builds each year.
This means that, if the Chinese people refuse to conceive and bear the number of children that the state demands, childbearing will become mandatory. Women will be forcibly inseminated, regular pelvic examinations will be instituted to monitor their pregnancies, and abortions will be forbidden.
Unless and until the Communist regime abandons its Planned Birth policy, and allows couples to freely choose the number and spacing of their children, abuses will continue.
And since when has a one-party dictatorship ever voluntarily relinquished even a portion of the power that it wields over its people?