Unauthorized births run counter to aims of World Population Day

13:40, July 08, 2010      

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The world's population reached 5 billion on July 11, 1987, and the United Nations set that date as World Population Day.

The theme of this year's 21st World Population Day is "Everyone counts", and the activities in China will focus on the 2010 population census and emphasize the right to life.

It also aims to stress the importance of efficient population control by means of collecting and analyzing the latest data so as to make an impact on decision-making and improve people's lives.

The risks caused by over-population include a lack of living space, the shortage of jobs, sky-high housing prices, environmental deterioration and scarcity of energy and resources.

In China, the issue of unauthorized births is at the forefront of its efforts to control the growth of its population as it undermines the country's family planning policy, or "one-child policy", which was implemented in 1980.

According to official Chinese statistics, the national population reached 1.3 billion at the end of 2008, with 6.7 million born that year. Unauthorized births accounted for a large percentage of those births.

Since the family planning policy was implemented, local governments strictly controlled the births of each family, and only allowed each couple to have one child, but with a more flexible policy in China's ethnic minority areas.

However, not all couples obeyed the rules, especially those in rural areas where awareness was low and monitoring was inadequate.

Liu Yanli, a civil servant in Beijing, says that it was not until 1983 that the policy was strictly enforced in her hometown of Botou, Hebei Province, adding that by then her mother was 4-months pregnant.

Liu says that women with unauthorized pregnancies had to be careful of other villagers who could betray them to the authorities, and they had to move from place to place in order to avoid detection.

Liu's mother stayed with her own mother during her pregnancy, and also for four years after she gave birth to her daughter.

"During those years, the household contract responsibility system was initiated in my hometown. But I was not eligible for any land because I did not have a residence permit or hukou," Liu added. "Until I was four years old, the neighbor criticized my parents for my unauthorized birth. The village team assigned to enforce the population control policies fined my parents about 1,000. "

Liu says that unauthorized births were common in her hometown because of "the weak awareness of policy and shortage of labor".

The usual punishment was a fine, but if some families could not afford to pay the fine, their belongings, such as a bicycle or television, would be confiscated.

In Chinese rural areas, most families prefer boys, partly because they are seen as being able to help with work on the farm.

The authorities relaxed the rules in rural areas, allowing couples whose firstborn was a girl to have a second child. But they were not allowed to have a third one.

Another woman, Chen Fei, who now lives in Tianjin, was the eldest child in her family. She told the Global Times that her parents in her hometown, Yongchang county in Jinchang city, Gansu Province, were allowed to have a second child.

This policy of allowing a second child to couples whose firstborn was a girl is still being carried out. However, in 2000 the authorities decided that the age difference between the two children must be at least five years.

Regarding the issue of hukou for the "unauthorized" population, a researcher with the Institute of Population and Labor Economies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Zhang Yi, recently referred to a new document released by the Ministry of Public Security.

The document states that the "unauthorized" population would be able to receive residence permits in order to carry out the country's sixth population census, which will begin on November 1.

Source: Global Times


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