Removing stipulations regarding family planning from a draft civil code does not indicate China will end its family planning policy, legislators and law professors said on Tuesday.
Family planning-related clauses in the current Marriage Law and Adoption Law have been dropped in a draft of the marriage section of the civil code.
The draft is among six sections of the code that were submitted to the top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, for a first reading on Monday.
Given the country's demographic situation, the decision has triggered widespread speculation as to whether it is meant to pave the way for the abolishment of the country's decades-old family planning policy.
However, legislators explained on Tuesday that there's a special law on family planning, so there's no need to include similar content in the marriage section while drafting the civil code.
Related regulations can still be found in the Population and Family Planning Law. As for whether the Population and Family Planning Law will be amended due to the changing demographic situation in the country requires further consideration, according to the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee.
Li Mingshun, a law professor at China Women's University in Beijing, explained that the marriage section of the civil code, which falls under private law, mainly regulates rights and obligations of family members. But birth is a basic human right, so family planning more closely aligns within the category of administrative law, or even within the Constitution.
"As for whether family planning policy will be abolished, that's not under the regulation of the marriage section of the civil code," he said.
Jiang Yue, a law professor at Xiamen University, said the removal of family planning in the draft is meant to catch up with the pace of the nation's changes.
The Marriage Law was adopted more than three decades ago. But with the passage of time and amid societal changes, along with the progress of China's legislation, there's better understanding on the matter these days.
She added that birth-related content is not written into civil codes in more than 20 countries and regions, according to her research into the matter.
Li also emphasized there should be an objective understanding of China's family planning policy. He said the policy is to make the quantity and quality of the population mesh with the country's economic development and natural environment, "so it couldn't be simply taken to control the population".
In addition to the draft of the marriage section, the other five draft sections being deliberated by the legislature involve contracts and inheritance issues.
The package of the six sections is the second step in formulating China's civil code, which is expected to be completed by 2020. The general provisions of the code were adopted in March 2017.