Due to its vast territory, large population and the great differences between regions, urban and rural areas and ethnic groups, the promotion of family planning in China is a highly complicated task. When working out the policies of population and family planning, and the objectives of population control in accordance with the actual conditions in the country, the Chinese government took into consideration the needs of the social and economic development of the state and its longrange interests, as well as the actual conditions of different regions, ethnic groups and social strata, the people's wishes and attitudes, to combine state guidance with voluntary participation by the masses.
The combination of state guidance with voluntary participation is an
important principle China has always followed since the implementation of the family
planning policy, and is the fundamental guarantee of success for the family planning
programme as well. The main manifestations of state guidance include: The central and
local governments, in accordance with the national conditions and people's will, and
through legislative procedures, have formulated the policies, laws and regulations
concerning the control of population growth, the improvement of the life quality of
population and the optimization of the population structure; worked out the macro
population development plan, and integrated it in the overall plan for national economic
and social development; placed population control and family planning in the government's
major agenda, organized and coordinated all relevant departments
Voluntary participation is mainly manifested in the fact that, under the guidance of the state's relevant policies and legislation, the right of all couples and individuals to carry out family planning is protected and respected. While exercising their right of child bearing, couples and individuals must take into account their responsibilities and duties to the state and community, and the health and happiness of the family and all its members. On the basis of effective information, advice and services and in accordance with the age, health, work and family economic conditions, couples and individuals can arrange for pregnancy and child bearing in a responsible and planned way, and select proper contraceptive methods so as to have healthy children and happy, progressive families.
A family planning policy that conforms to the state's actual
conditions and embodies classified guidance is an important component part of exercising
state guidance. The main contents of the current family planning policy in China are:
Advocating delayed marriage and delayed child bearing, fewer and healthier births; and
advocating one child for one couple. Some rural couples with actual difficulties are
allowed to give birth to a second child a few years after the birth of the first child.
The national minorities are also required to practise family planning, and concrete
demands and approaches to the policy are decided by each autonomous region or the province
in which the national minorities live. There are practical differences in the family
planning policy between urban and rural areas, and between the Han and the ethnic
One child for one couple is a necessary choice made under China's special historical conditions to alleviate the grim population situation. One child for one couple does not mean to "have one child" under all circumstances, but rather, while encouraging couples to have only one child, to plan arrangements for couples who have real difficulties and need to have a second child to do so. In China's cities and towns where family planning was introduced earlier and the economic, cultural, educational, public health and social security conditions are better, the overwhelming majority of couples of child-bearing age who are pleased with a small family have responded to the government's call and volunteered to have only one child. In 1990, of the non-agricultural population in China's urban localities, the total fertility rate of women dropped to 1.26, or 1.05 lower than the nation's average figure. In the countryside, the total fertility birth rate of women was 2.8.
China is a multi-ethnic country, the population of the national
minorities making up about 8 percent of the country's total. To raise the economic and
educational levels of the national minority areas and improve the life quality of the
population, since the early 1980s the Chinese government has also advocated family
planning in the areas inhabited by national minorities, except for Tibet and sparsely
populated minority areas. The concrete policies are worked out by the national minority
autonomous areas and the relevant provinces and autonomous regions according to specific
local conditions. In general, a couple in agricultural and pastoral areas is allowed to
have two children; and a more flexible policy is
The state has imposed no specific requirements on Tibet in family planning. In 1985, the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region, in view of the actual population growth there, began to advocate family planning among Tibetan cadres, workers and staff, encouraging each couple to voluntarily space two births at reasonable intervals. Among the broad masses of farmers and herdsmen, the government has mainly educated them in child-bearing knowledge, advocated healthier birth and child-rearing practices, improved health care for women and children, and provided contraceptives and birth control technical services to those who volunteer to practise birth control. No policy restrictions have ever been imposed on the number of births in the agricultural and pastoral areas. The fourth national population census in 1990 revealed that Tibetan people in the Tibet Autonomous Region numbered 2.0967 million, making up 95.48 percent of the total population in Tibet.
China encourages fertile married couples to select contraceptive
methods of their own accord under the guidance of the state; and offers various
preferential treatments in daily life, work and many other aspects to families who
volunteer to have only one child, helps them to solve difficulties in their lives and work
and creates conditions for them to become better off as soon as possible. Assessments are
imposed on multi-birth
Practice has proved that China's current policy on family planning conforms to the fundamental interests of the people throughout the country; meanwhile it also takes into account part of the people's wishes and attitudes. Hence the policy has won understanding and support from the people of the whole country and has guaranteed the success of the family planning work.