China's family planning
Illegal children will be confiscated
The one-child policy is not just a human-rights abomination; it has also worsened a demographic problem
Jul 21st 2011 | from the print edition
“BEFORE 1997 they usually punished us by tearing down our houses for breaching the one-child policy…After 2000 they began to confiscate our children.” Thus Yuan Chaoren, a villager from Longhui county in Hunan province, describing in Caixin magazine the behaviour of family-planning bureaucrats. According to Caixin, local officials would take “illegal children” and pack them off to orphanages where they were put up for adoption. Foreign adoptive parents paid $3,000-5,000 per child. The bureaucrats collected a kickback.
Stealing children is not an official part of Beijing’s one-child policy, but it is a consequence of rules that are a fundamental affront to the human rights of parents and would-be parents. The policy damages families and upsets the balance between generations. It is so hated that even within China it is now coming under political attack. For the first time a whole province, Guangdong, with a population of over 100m, is demanding exemptions (see article).
A thousand-mile journey begins with a single step
Chinese officials are fiercely attached to the one-child policy. They attribute to it almost every drop in fertility and every averted birth: some 400m more people, they claim, would have been born without it. This is patent nonsense. Chinese fertility was falling for decades before the one-child policy took effect in 1979. Fertility has gone down almost as far and as fast without coercion in neighbouring countries, including those with large Chinese populations. The spread of birth control and a desire for smaller families tend to accompany economic growth and development almost everywhere.