Encouraging people to have more children is an abrupt reversal of the previous policy
Endings matter. They herald a reckoning, something that doesn’t come about very often in a place like China. While there has been very little official stocktaking over painful aspects of the country’s recent history, private citizens are free to do their own assessments and there has been an enormous amount of public venting on the shortcomings of the one-child policy in recent years.
Part of this is because, unlike the 1989 Tiananmen Square student demonstrations, which mostly affected the educated elite, the one-child policy has imprinted itself deeply into the lives of almost everyone in China, creating a hugely imbalanced population that has too many single men and too many retirees. The pressures are felt – and will continue to be felt – across every social level, from “bare branches” – rural men unable to find brides – to college-educated urban women stigmatised as “leftovers” if they stay single.
China’s ‘little emperor’ singleton children shoulder the burden of an ageing society
New rules restricting abortions in Jiangxi province raised fears that women’s reproductive rights could be eroded