Text by Wang Shuo
Before retiring, Li Jianrong served as the directorof the family planning commissionof a large state-owned company in ShijiazhuangCity, capital of Hebei Province.
Early this year, 64-year-old Li’s only child passed awaydue to illness. In her prime, Li worked very hard. Shewas not only skilled at persuading those who didn’twant to follow family planning rules, but she also endedher second pregnancy voluntarily to comply withthe one-child policy. After losing her only son, themother is terrified of the future. When imagining thelonely years ahead, she only feels regret for the decisionto have an abortion.
Recently, reports of couples who lose their onlychild are appearing more frequently in major Chinesemedia, arousing public concern. At present, at least amillion such families exist on China’s mainland, with76,000 more joining them every year. Their heartwrenchingstories have pressured the government toact. Some people hope for a compensation system or other measures to help these families, while others waitfor policies to care for the elderly. At the same time,more people are voicing hopes to adjust the one-childpolicy in light of new conditions – to gradually allowmore couples to have a second child.
China’s current one-child policy began in 1980.That year, the Communist Party of China’s CentralCommittee noted that related departments may “adopta different population policy in 30 years if the demographictension of a runaway birth rate is relieved.”
Now, more than 30 years since the one-child policywas implemented, China is facing a different demographicproblem as the elderly begin to outnumber theworking class. Has the time come for China to changeits population policy?
In recent years, China’s academic circles have beendebating existing population policies. Now, the debatehas spread to political circles and many local governmentsare also conducting extensive research on thesubject.