Older parents' worries dispelled by change in 'one-child' policy

2015-10-30 08:58Global Times Editor: Li Yan

China will allow all couples to have two children, abandoning its decades-long "one-child" family planning policy, according to a communique issued Thursday by the Communist Party of China.

The news has been hailed by many couples who were ineligible to have a second child under the previous policy, which only allowed couples to have a second child if either parent is an only child.

Many such couples that were blocked by the previous policy, especially those born in the 1970s who will soon be physically unable to conceive, have been fighting to have a second child for a long time.

Reluctant to take action

Li Fang (pseudonym), a 46-year-old mother, has long been waiting for the government to loosen its family planning policy.

The previous policy didn't motivate many people to have a second child or bring about the expected baby boom. The lackluster results of the policy encouraged many parents, who hoped the government would further lift the restrictions.

But like many other parents, Li got pregnant before the release of Thursday's communique, so she discovered another way to have a legally born second child - by faking her divorce to bypass restrictions.

Li is not the only one who came up with the idea of a "fake" divorce. The mother marrying a childless man and then claiming that the new child is the offspring of her second husband was one way parents tried to circumvent the restrictions and avoid a penalty.

But this method was not a totally safe way to have a second child. If evidence showed that the new husband is not the child's biological father, the couple would have to pay a huge fine to the family planning authorities.

A woman in Foshan, Guangdong Province was fined over 260,000 yuan ($40,898) for faking a marriage with her ex-husband's uncle and illegally having a second child, the Nanfang Daily reported in March, 2014.

Despite her efforts, Li's second child was stillborn due to her age, which is another grave problem haunting the post-1970s parents.

Li's tragedy has hurt many parents who share the same experience with her.

Feng Huang (pseudonym), a mother who set up a QQ group for post-1970s non-single-child parents, decided to call for change.

In 2014, the group put forward a proposal online, advocating for the restrictions on having a second child to be lifted. The proposal received 5,000 signatures in favor of the parents' demand before the link was blocked by the police.

The group later planned to organize an event to express their desire to be allowed to have a second child in a local park in Shenzhen, which soon drew attention from the local police. Feng, along with other members of the group, was interrogated by the police.

According to Feng, the police tried to threaten her colleagues and friends, forcing her to stop the event.

"Despite the pressure, I have never thought about giving up. Before I was only fighting for myself, now I am calling for a change for all parents," Feng said.

Due to the country's bleak demographic outlook, the appeals of Feng and other post-1970s parents' were noticed by the public and media. More and more experts and scholars supported those parents' demand, while an increasing number of people began to ask for a looser policy on having a second child.

Tough choice

Those post-1970s parents often had to make a tough choice between a second child and their careers. If the parents chose the child, they often faced losing their job and being forced to start their career from scratch; if these older parents preferred their job, they may have found themselves missing their last chance to have another baby.

"Lele Yixiao" (pseudonym), a 36-year-old mother in Southwest China's Chongqing, was forced to make such a difficult choice.

Local officials visited her multiple times after she got pregnant, hoping she would abort the child. Her husband was told to quit his job if the baby was born.

"LeLe Yixiao" stood up to the pressure from the government and her husband, but was convinced by her mother to abort the child, because "it's irresponsible to give birth to a child whose existence is illegal."


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