Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Monday, September 02, 2002

No Relaxation of Chinese 'One Couple, One Child' Policy: Official

China will neither tighten nor relax its family planning policy for a long period of time, a Chinese official said Sunday, the first day of the implementation of the country's Population and Family Planning Law.


China will neither tighten nor relax its family planning policy for a long period of time, a Chinese official said Sunday, the first day of the implementation of the country's Population and Family Planning Law.

Xu Yulin, Deputy Director of the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, said that it is a misconception to think that China will relax its family planning policy, a change that would permit its citizens to have as many children as they would like as long as they are able to pay the fine imposed for an extra-policy birth.

Xu said China will persist with its policy of "one couple, one child", and the new law will not allow people to legitimize extra-policy births with money.

According to the law, those who have an extra-policy birth must pay for the extra burden they impose on society because they will use more public resources.

The new regulation, from the moment it was published, generated rumors that the government might relax its control over population, saying Chinese people might be allowed to have more children on the precondition of paying the fee.

Zhao Bingli, Vice-Minister in charge of the State Family Planning Commission, said the law was made to ensure the control of the country's population and thus to guarantee the harmonious co-development of population, economy, society and environment.

"The mentality of 'money for children' goes against the core principle of the family planning legislation," Zhao said. "From the date that the law took effect, those who have an extra-policy birth must face the music."

Xu said in order to control its population, China must impose strict restrictions on extra-policy births. "But we attach equal importance to measures other than imposing fines such as promoting the law and providing contraception services."

Men's rights stipulated
Men's rights in family planning are for the first time clearly stipulated in China's Population and Family Planning Law.

The law was adopted late last year at the 25th session of the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress.

The new law stipulates that all citizens, regardless of gender,have a right to have children of their own. Both men and women are responsible for birth control and men will get legal support if their partners have abortions without their consent.

The Law on Protection of Women's Rights, already in place for years, says women in China are entitled to the right to have children in accordance with state regulations and also have the right not to have children.

But men's right to have children were not clearly defined. So when disputes on the rights of reproduction came to courts, only the Marriage Law and Civil Affairs Law were relevant.

"Chinese laws have never stripped men of their right to reproduction," said Xu Anqi, an associate researcher with ShanghaiAcademy of Social Sciences, who explained the emphasis of women's right to reproduction in law in the past was made in a bid to protect women.

Sun Xiaoying, associate researcher with Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Regional Academy of Social Sciences, admitted women shouldered more responsibility and risks than men in reproduction,including pregnancy, giving birth and breast feeding, which can not be borne by men, but the past practice of entrusting wives with the right to decide reproduction to some extent harmed men's interests.

Zeng Qianghua, an official with the family planning committee of Guangxi, said reproduction was a shared responsibility, so major issues such as whether to have a child and whether to have an abortion should be decided by both partners.

However, a woman surnamed Liu insisted reproduction was a private matter, to be decided according to a couple's circumstances, so consensus could not always be achieved.

"If husband and wife have not reached a consensus over reproduction, then the wife's action to have an abortion on her own would not constitute an infringement on the rights of her husband," said Liu.

With women's increasing independence and changing concepts of parenthood, more Chinese women are choosing not to have children.

Statistics show 10 percent of eligible men and women have chosen not to have children in the Chinese capital, Beijing, and 600,000 families in the cities of Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai are dinkies -- double income, no kids couples.

Song Jianping, a lawyer, believes there is always the possibility that one partner of a dinky couple changes his or her mind and wants a child, which might eventually land them in a reproductive dispute.

China, with a population of 1.3 billion, is now among the countries with the lowest birth rates in the world.

Governmental Appropriation
China will finance its family planning sector with governmental appropriation to keep the machine working effectively, a Chinese official said Sunday.

Zhang Weiqing, Minister in charge of the State Family Planning Commission, said the Population and Family Planning Law, which comes into effect Sunday, has laid a legal foundation for the country's family planning work to get financial appropriation from governments at all levels.

Family planning is a national policy of China, which calls for each couple to have no more than one child. However, the family planning work in some regions used to live off the fines from families which violated the birth control regulation. Usually the expense of the family planning sector had to rely on what local family planning officials could collect.

"This practice would inevitably lead to the abuse of power and even corruption," said Zhang, adding that the new-born law will help stop arbitrary charging and fining on out-of-policy birth by some local officials in charge of birth control.

The law separates the interest of family planning sectors from the fee they collect from law-breaching families, regulating all the fee should be turned in to the treasury and governments at all levels should finance local work of family planning.

Zhang said the reform of the financing system of family planning sector is an irresistible trend. "The reform not only helps build the image of the family planning sector, but defenses people's legal interest and frees farmers of unnecessary burdens."

The system of family planning sector being operated by governmental finance is beneficial to the country's cause of family planning, Zhang said.

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