10/30/2015, 00.00
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For many, the end of China’s one-child changes nothing, for most “cannot afford large families"

Ordinary Chinese welcome the decision to end a policy introduced by Deng Xiaoping in 1979 that produced about 400 million abortions. However, the general feeling is that the country is now too used to only one child, as evinced by interviews with people in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – A long report published today by the South China Morning Post, based on interviews with ordinary people in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other cities of the country, indicates that the end of China’s decades-old one-child policy is generally welcomed by ordinary Chinese. Yet, for most, it will change little in Chinese society.

Many have the feeling is that it is too late for real change. Raising children has become too expensive, wages are too low even for college graduates, and the pressure on children is too strong.

“I have a three-year-old girl and I can have a second child even without the policy change,” said John Ge, from Beijing. The “change is good as it will allow more couples to have a second child. It’s such a wonderful thing for a child to have a sibling as company.”

“I’ve immigrated and have two children. I like the new policy,” said Yang Shu, who lives in Beijing. “But many may choose not to have more children although they are allowed to do so. Some employees at my workplace – even though they come from China’s top universities – earn just 5,000 yuan (US$ 800) a month. It’s not easy to make a living and raise children with such high living costs in Beijing. It’s not for me to judge whether the change comes too late; any change in China doesn’t come easy.”

“I’m not married so I’m not affected by the policy change,” said Tom Zhang. “But even if I were, I would still have to consider whether or not to have a second child. It takes hundreds of thousands of yuan to just one; how does anyone dare to have more children? It’s a good thing the government has finally lifted the restriction, though. People in my home village will no longer have to get abortions or pay a big fine for violating the birth control policy. I think having just one child is too much of a risk for families and too much pressure for the only child. If anything happens to that child, it would be such a disaster for their parents.”

For Chen Wenhuan, “The number of children should be a decision made by couples and not the government. Couples may not have more children because of this change, but they will appreciate the freedom to choose. I think the change comes a bit late, especially now that the population structure is clearly problematic; China is already a grey society. This change that came too late will definitely affect the national economy.”

“It’s not a bad idea, letting us have a second child,” said Ren Yun, 36, a manager at a Shanghai state-owned travel agency. “Unfortunately, it’s too late. My son has been asking me for years if he can have a younger brother or sister. But he’s already 10 years old and a sibling would be too young to communicate with him.”

“I don’t think the new policy will substantially increase the birth rate,” Ren added, “given the heavy financial burden a second child would have on average households. Unless the government rolls out more incentives to encourage families to have more children – say, subsidies for those with two – the policy change won’t make a big difference at all."

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