Chinese gov’t considers policy changes to manage declining birthrates

China 24

During China’s political season – the Two Sessions, one of the hotly debated issues is the family planning policy. The birth rate in China fell last year, alarming officials who had confidently predicted a baby boom following the relaxation of the one-child policy.

CGTN’s Han Bin reports.

Starting in 2016, couples in China were allowed to have a second child.

“The two-child policy has been implemented, but the fertility rate has yet to rise sharply,” Yu Jinyao, a deputy of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference said. “The old tradition of having children to take care of the elderly has disappeared. Even if you have two or three children, they will not be able to look after you. Society is very mobile.”

Many parents have dreamed of having a second child, but most couples are very hesitant.

“Having a baby is very demanding,” Yu Wenxiu, a Beijing resident said. “If you don’t have grandparents to help, you can’t go to work. There’s so much difficulty.”

An aging society is a reality for many countries. China, as a result of decades of a “one-child policy”, is growing old before it is getting rich. Will the government adopt new measures to encourage couples to have a second child?

“My proposal this year is to look after the elderly people with only one child,” Yu Jinghao said. “China used to focus on population control, but now it should focus on its quality and structure. Dealing with the aging issue relies mainly on state policy. If fertility continues to drop, it’s necessary to take measures such as on taxes or other subsidies.

He Ningyuan and Ding Qi have two children.

“Most kids today are the only kid in their family,” He Ningyuan said. “They might be more independent, but think too much about themselves. I don’t want them to be alone.”

“Without the right financial conditions, they can’t have another child,” Ding Qi added. “The burden of raising a second child has yet to crush my life.”

“Beijing citizens can buy two housing units, but outsiders can buy only one,” He Ningyuan said. “At least the policy should allow us to purchase a second home.”

There’s been a lot of talk about whether the government should encourage couples to have more children. No new policies are being released during this year’s political season. But there’s a growing consensus, that the disappearing demographic advantage is becoming a real threat to development.

Karen Woods discusses China’s Two Child Policy

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke with Karen Woods, senior associate at Solstice Public Affairs, about China’s Two-Child Policy and whether the government will make changes to the system.