China formally eases up on their one-child policy. …Kinda.’ Sorta.’ Not really at all.

posted at 4:01 pm on December 28, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

In their longstanding and misbegotten mission to control the population as well as crush any institutions that might subvert the people’s loyalty to The State (i.e., family and religion), the Chinese Communist Party imposed upon their subjects an often brutally enforced one-child policy back in 1980 that have made female infanticide and forced abortions and sterilizations a part of everyday life in China. The widely-abhorred policy is the subject of a lot of open public disgruntlement, and as part of a series of, ahem, “reforms” the Communist Party is currently occupied with implementing, the ruling class announced earlier this fall that they would be easing up somewhat on the policy’s restrictions — which they have now formally done, via Reuters:

China formally approved on Saturday easing its decades-long one-child policy and the abolition of a controversial labor camp system, the official Xinhua news agency reported. …

Under the new policy, couples will be allowed to have two children if one of the parents is an only child. Previously, a couple could generally only have a second child if both parents were only children.

The plan was envisioned by the government about five years ago, with officials worried that the strict controls were undermining economic growth and contributing to a rapidly ageing population China had no hope of supporting financially.

…Except that, in reality, this is only the tiniest adjustment being added to the list of standing exceptions, and one that will accomplish approximately nothing to solve that pesky problem of a “rapidly ageing population” that China has “no hope of supporting financially.” As Nicholas Eberstadt explained last month at the WSJ after news of the change first leaked, the minor change won’t help with the incoming demographic crash:

The day after the new birth directives were announced, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua ran the headline “Birth policy changes are no big deal.” Beijing did not significantly “reform” population control. Rather, it just reaffirmed its coercive program with one minor and relatively insignificant change.

But why? China today faces staggering demographic problems, including a shrinking pool of working-age men and women and a rapidly aging population that will slow economic growth, perhaps severely. The traditional family structure will be tested by, among other things, a growing army of unmarriageable men, a consequence of rampant sex-selective abortion in the One Child era. To the extent that the policy has “succeeded,” it has made each of these demographic problems more acute.

Yet even if Beijing repudiated all forms of population control tomorrow, these problems would persist for the generation to come. Practically everyone who will be in the Chinese workforce in 2030, or the Chinese marriage market in 2035, has already been born under the current restrictions. No variations in population policy today can change this part of the country’s future.

With a population of over 1.3 billion people, they’ve dug themselves into quite the demographic hole — and it isn’t at all clear how they’re going to manage to climb back out of it.


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With a population of over 1.3 billion people, they’ve dug themselves into quite the demographic hole — and it isn’t at all clear how they’re going to manage to climb back out of it.

Enslave some other population. Communists will never admit a mistake, and now they are trying to bury evil with fake gestures. Expect China to start calling their debts back real soon.

nobar on December 28, 2013 at 4:14 PM

Unlike Thomas Friedman, I’m not envious of China’s government. Their demographic problems make our problems with social security and Medicare look pretty tame in comparison and how their government deals with it will be … Orwellian.

Euthanasia … old people will relocate to “retirement” villages … where they can enter early “hospice” care.

Or warehousing the elderly in high rises, where they are fed minimal food, have limited amounts of heat and light, minimal medical care.

Maybe both options. Not sure which is worse.

By removing the elderly from the larger population, out of sight, out of mind … what happens after that will be of less concern to the younger population. If you can take the kids to see Grandma and Grandpa once a year, until the older generation dies off, then you can assuage the guilt of warehousing the elderly.

As long as you don’t set up a “Logan’s Run” scenario, you’ll be OK, from the Chinese leadership’s perspective.

Grinch on December 28, 2013 at 4:16 PM

The plan was envisioned by the government about five years ago, with officials worried that the strict controls were undermining economic growth and contributing to a rapidly aging population China had no hope of supporting financially.

Kazunori Takada, Reuters (worldnews.nbcnews.com)

.
So they’ve finally figured it out, huh?

In the meantime, there will most likely be a government imposed euthanasia program for all citizens who can no longer “produce.”

Oh … they already have that? … Never mind.

listens2glenn on December 28, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Labor camps, forced abortion, sterilization and infanticide, but they have Single Payer Healthcare.

Lefty Verdict: Civilized.

29Victor on December 28, 2013 at 4:30 PM

With a population of over 1.3 billion people, they’ve dug themselves into quite the demographic hole — and it isn’t at all clear how they’re going to manage to climb back out of it.

“Renewal!”?

Count to 10 on December 28, 2013 at 4:31 PM

As long as you don’t set up a “Logan’s Run” scenario, you’ll be OK, from the Chinese leadership’s perspective.

Grinch on December 28, 2013 at 4:16 PM

I see that I was too slow.

Count to 10 on December 28, 2013 at 4:33 PM

One thing that the Chinese would like to encourage is domestic demand so that production is not so dependent on export markets. While doubling to 2 children for most couples will not effect the labor force right away, it will increase domestic demand as these children’s parents will be spending more and saving less in just a matter of a few years. Thus, this change is substantial in my view.

KW64 on December 28, 2013 at 4:36 PM

With a population of over 1.3 billion people, they’ve dug themselves into quite the demographic hole — and it isn’t at all clear how they’re going to manage to climb back out of it.

When you live in a totalitarian society with no moral or religious values, I don’t see why this is a problem. Why do we assume you must somehow pay for and care for your aging population? Once someone can no longer be a productive member of society (i.e. employed), they should be immediately euthanized. I would think that would be a no brainer in China.

Shump on December 28, 2013 at 4:38 PM

With a population of over 1.3 billion people, they’ve dug themselves into quite the demographic hole — and it isn’t at all clear how they’re going to manage to climb back out of it.

Cannon fodder.

Genuine on December 28, 2013 at 4:44 PM

China has a plan for support of its aging population. They intend to make the West (USA and Europe) support its aging population. Why do you think China buys our debt. They intend to call those notes one day in the not to far future.

How do you think USA will support its own aging population and the aging population of China at the same time?

paulsur on December 28, 2013 at 5:11 PM

and it isn’t at all clear how they’re going to manage to climb back out of it.

Au Contraire! Its crystal clear indeed. They are going to have us support them.

paulsur on December 28, 2013 at 5:13 PM

A finite planet and finite ecosystem can support only a finite number of people. The environment is weakening from our pollution, destruction, …, and more people are depending on it to stay alive. Do we believe this can continue forever?

China did what was necessary to stabilize their population, except they should have insured that equal numbers of male and female babies were born – and kept.

greenLibertarian on December 28, 2013 at 5:24 PM

I’ve been going to China on business for ten years, and I talk to a lot of people there about these types of issues. What I was always told is that even though the one-child thing was the official policy, there were plenty of ways around it and lots of people had been having more than one kid all along. What Beijing says and what is actual practice are rarely the same.

China is like part totalitarian state, part Wild West. Everything is negotiable. Everyone is on the take. Despite its GDP, the place is really one big mess. No one knows what anyone else is doing. Rules change like changing wind directions depending on what someone in Beijing says, and then people on the ground find a work-around half a second later.

People there have their own radar that we’ll never get. Kind of like the Japanese. It’s like being on Mars. The women are all gorgeous though.

WhatSlushfund on December 28, 2013 at 5:34 PM

I’ve been going to China on business for ten years, and I talk to a lot of people there about these types of issues. What I was always told is that even though the one-child thing was the official policy, there were plenty of ways around it and lots of people had been having more than one kid all along. What Beijing says and what is actual practice are rarely the same.

China is like part totalitarian state, part Wild West.

WhatSlushfund on December 28, 2013 at 5:34 PM

Yep.

DarkCurrent on December 28, 2013 at 7:06 PM

Oh goody! More scary stories about China’s sanity about population. I guess if one is content to utterly disregard the environment, then condemning China for being reasonable makes sense. By the way China’s Debt to GDP ratio is 31.7% which is low enough to suggest to me that China will survive this terrible, awful, worse than Nazi Germany demographic crisis just fine.

thuja on December 28, 2013 at 8:04 PM

…does China have same sex marriage?

KOOLAID2 on December 28, 2013 at 8:36 PM

My two children were born in 1984 and 1989. The younger now has two of her own, and one on the way. If I were born into that monstrous regime, neither she nor my precious grandcritters would have been born. It’s chilling to contemplate.

entropent on December 29, 2013 at 12:36 AM

paulsur on December 28, 2013 at 5:11 PM

They can’t “call the notes” because they bought our debt by buying bonds. We owe to those bonds when they mature. They can sell the bonds to anyone who will buy (at a discount before maturity) or wait for their maturity and cash them in, hoping they won’t be inflated to below their purchase value.

The worst they can do is refuse to buy any more debt, forcing us to inflate the currency to pay current bonds. That will hurt us, but will devastate them.

Either way, everyone is in for a bruising time in the next decade or so.

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on December 29, 2013 at 1:51 AM

China formally eases up on their one-child policy. …Kinda.’ Sorta.’ Not really at all.

Actually it’s quite a significant change as there’s now effectively a two-child policy for most Chinese couples of typical childbearing age. It also signals that the population control policy is likely to be completely scrapped in the not too distant future.

DarkCurrent on December 29, 2013 at 7:14 AM

Once someone can no longer be a productive member of society (i.e. employed), they should be immediately euthanized. I would think that would be a no brainer in China.

Shump on December 28, 2013 at 4:38 PM

And yet it’s clearly not, since they aren’t doing that. There must be something wrong with your assumptions.

DarkCurrent on December 29, 2013 at 7:25 AM

…does China have same sex marriage?

KOOLAID2 on December 28, 2013 at 8:36 PM

Yes, but only in the rebel/bandit-occupied Province of Taiwan

DarkCurrent on December 29, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Let someone else, perhaps a person with a clue, do the reporting on China Erika. Your uninformed, prejudiced and hyper-jingoistic sinophobic rants should be an embarrassment to HA.

DarkCurrent on December 30, 2013 at 5:51 PM