In Major Reversal, Beijing Unveils Series of Policies Promoting Childbearing

By Anne Zhang
Anne Zhang
Anne Zhang
July 31, 2021 Updated: July 31, 2021

On July 20, the State Council of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officially issued a document which not only allows three children for each family but also introduces a number of policies to encourage childbirth, indicating the regime’s eagerness to get Chinese people to have more children.

Other than giving permission for parents to have a third child, the document also abolishes fines for over-birth, lifts restrictions on residency registration, school admissions, and jobs for “over-born” children—a term created during the one-child era, referring to the second or third child. It also actively develops inclusive kindergartens, ensures after-school childcare services; and gives child-rearing families personal income tax benefits, public rental housing, and housing support.

In addition, the Chinese Ministry of Education recently encouraged schools to open and provide childcare services during summer vacation. Some of China’s first- and second-tier cities have cracked down on housing prices in good school districts, all suggesting that the authorities are looking for ways to push more people to have children by reducing the burden on Chinese families.

The CCP has been issuing mandatory or soft family planning policies since the founding of the regime, claiming that government-controlled family planning is an essential component of a planned economy.

In the early 1950s, couples at childbearing age were encouraged to have as many children as possible, and women who gave birth to numerous children were honored as “Hero Mothers.”

By 1953, census data showed that China’s population increased 560 million in less than four years, a much higher rate than natural population growth. The authorities made the first reverse in 1957, calling on families to have fewer children.

Twenty years later, strict birth control became a national policy in 1979 when the CCP began implementing its one-child regulation to curb China’s population growth through brutal methods such as forced abortions, forced birth control, and sterilizations.

According to a report released by the Chinese authorities in January 2007, 400 million fewer people have been born in China since the introduction of “family planning,” which the party calls a “remarkable achievement.”

However, with the disappearance of the demographic dividend and serious population aging, the CCP began to allow the birth of the second child in 2011. At the end of May 2021, the regime began allowing the birth of a third child. The CCP is now begging people to have children, yet most people do not want to do so.

The regime mouthpiece Xinhua News Agency conducted a poll about the three-child policy on its official Weibo account on May 31. The poll was originally intended to run for seven days, but was deleted after one day. A screenshot taken on day one showed that more than 31,000 people voted at one point, with about 28,000 or 90 percent saying they “completely did not consider” having a third child, according to screenshots posted by netizens.

Commenting on the three-child policy in late May, Yuan Tengfei, a prominent YouTuber and former history teacher in China, said some experts and scholars had been pleading recently that there are not enough people in China. “Put it bluntly, (they’re saying that) there are not enough ‘leeks’ (ordinary people) to cut. It’s the same reason why they’re against ‘lying flat-ism.’ If all you ‘leeks’ lie flat, the sickle (the pattern on the CCP flag, used to refer to the communist regime) has nothing to cut, so they begin to encourage child birthing.” “Lying-flat” is a growing trend among young people in China, it advocates against aspirations such as work, career, marriage, and child-raising, etc.

In response to the “three-child policy” on May 31, a Health official admitted that based on a poll, “heavy economic burden” (75.1 percent), “lack of childcare resources” (51.3 percent), and a drop in the wages of female workers after giving birth (34.3 percent) are the top three reasons for people’s declining willingness to have children in recent years.

In addition, China’s aging population has been deepening in recent years, and the proportion of elderly people over 60 years old is expected to exceed 30 percent by 2035, the official said. Therefore, the implementation of the three-child policy and the birth support policy will be conducive to increasing the labor supply and reducing the burden of pension.

Faced with a declining birthrate and an aging population, the CCP is eager to encourage people to have a third child, in the hope of reducing the pressure from a declining population. Huang Wenzheng, a Chinese demographer, said in an interview with the Chinese media, 21st Century Business Herald in April, that between 1989 and 2019, the number of births in China fell from 24 million to 11 million. Industry experts generally believe that even if birth control is lifted, a negative growth era will be irreversible for China’s population. China “needs to fully lift all birth controls and vigorously encourage childbearing (with incentives).” Lifting birth control without encouraging childbearing by means of incentives will not be able to stop the shrinking of the birth population, he said.

“Everything has cause and effect,” commented Walter Zhang, a China news commentator. “Today the CCP has to swallow the bitter fruit of family planning, and no matter how much sugar is put in it, it can’t be sweetened.”

Anne Zhang
Anne Zhang