Last month, international headlines touted the “end” of China’s barbaric one-child policy. The draconian policy was implemented nearly forty years ago and is responsible for millions of forced abortions and sterilizations. The Pro-Life movement has played a key role in exposing the horrific nature of the policy’s implementation. Groups like All Girls Allowed have drawn attention to the male child preference that has resulted in a virtual search-and-destroy mission targeting preborn females for gendercide. Chinese women and families have suffered unspeakable tortures at the hands of the nation’s Family Planning Bureau.
Now, in a pathetic attempt to polish their tainted public image after the one-child policy and human rights violations were questioned during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visits to the United States and United Kingdom, China has re-branded the brutal policy. This may be little more than an effort to give the world the impression that the one-child policy, with all of the policy’s barbaric trappings, is a thing of the past. According to Matthew Li of the China Life Alliance, an organization in China which helps to rescue babies before they are killed, sold, or abandoned, exactly which changes the government plans to enact are yet to be seen:
In China we are hesitant to believe the announced changes until we learn more details. We are not sure when this policy will take full effect. These changes are usually rolled out slowly and in specific places under specific circumstances.”
“What we do know is that as of today our website is still blocked in China, our safe house network is busier than ever, and one of our workers is on the run because she is pregnant and trying to hide from authorities who are trying to force the abortion of her child.
Indeed, this is the third consecutive year in which similar headlines have been crafted by the Chinese government, and the nation’s populations have yet to see any substantive changes in the law which acknowledge their human dignity. In 2013 China announced the end of the atrocity-ridden Family Planning Bureau; more accurately, China only restructured and rebranded the organization. In 2014, the one-child policy was relaxed for certain couples in certain areas – and even those who did qualify for a second child were required to submit an application to the government to have that child.
As the China Life Alliance notes, the problem will not be solved by a “two-child policy.” A policy that dictates the number of children a citizen is legally permitted to bear is fundamentally and irreconcilably at-odds with human dignity. “No human should be told how many children they have,” said Li. “If China is serious about respecting human rights, the government should immediately end all family planning policies.”
Li notes that his organization’s website is still blocked in China; their safe house network is “busier than ever;” and the group is acquainted with women who are still suffering the abuses of China’s family planning laws. In short, nothing has changed. Time will tell whether China’s premature, PR-centric headlines will actually align with any substantive decline in human rights abuses.