02 November 2015

Uncommon Commentary #481: There’s Nothing Fine About This China

The alteration in government-mandated family-planning by the Peoples’ Republic of China is not so revolutionary as it might seem.  Contrary to the impression given by the Western media’s labeling of this policy as “one-child-per-family”—see below for my own term—, it was never true that couples throughout the land were forbidden to have more than a single child; that prohibition applied only in urban areas, whereas rural folk were permitted to have two, and members of ethnic minorities could have three or more.  The resultant misapprehension, and the correspondingly excessive welcoming of the PRC’s news by the uninformed over what they think to be a repeal rather than a mere modification of a terrible policy, demonstrates the importance of using accurate terms and avoiding oversimplification. (This easing of what I call reproduction-rationing provides a further lesson for the West, which is thought by some to be endangered by overpopulation but which actually has the same demographic concerns that motivated the Chinese Communist Party’s decision.)