08/06/2007, 00.00
CHINA
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One child policy: the slogans change but the fines increase

China softens its violent slogans in favour of its one child policy, in praise of a harmonium society common good and the ecology. But in the interim, various provinces apply harsher sanctions for families with more than one child.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China has toned down its one child policy slogans, linking them to public welfare to make them seem less violent.  In the meantime numerous provinces fine families 8 times the average annual wage for having more than one child.

For years billboards and posters have read slogans such as: “One more baby means one more tomb”, “Raise fewer babies but more piggies", or “Houses toppled, cows confiscated, if abortion demand rejected”.

Now the National Population and Family Planning Commission (Cpnpf) has decided to tone down violent publicity and adopt better suited ones “win more understanding to the country's population control policy”. Among the new 190 slogans recommended are ones linked to social well being and the ecology:  "The mother earth is too tired to sustain more children" and " If China wants a harmonious society, it needs to first solve the population problem”, “Population needs to be managed scientifically, harmony needs to be built with all the people.”, “Migrant workers need to prevent AIDS, don't harm the next generation”, “Both boys and girls are parents' hearts”.

Since 1979 the one child policy had ordered couplet to have one single child; only rural families and some minorities are permitted to have a second child if the first is female.  This policy has caused the selective abortion of female foetuses, in favour of males, resulting in an imbalance between the sexes; it has also brought about the rapid aging of the population.  Many local authorities have practiced forced abortions and sterilizations, sequestered homes and crop earnings to pay the heavy fines, causing often violent mass protests.  The government maintains that the policy has prevented at least 300 million births but critics say that the ban has not affected the rich, also because for quite a long time, punishment was purely economic: from a Cpnpf investigation it has emerged that most rich and famous have at least 2 children,  10% have 3.

The toning down of rhetoric does not however imply an easing of sanctions.  Hunan provincial People's Congress is discussing a draft amendment of local family planning regulations, which would impose a standard fine equal to eight times the offenders' incomes for the previous year. Many officials in Hunan were found breaching the nation's family planning law and denounced last month. Similar initiatives were also adopted in Henan and Zhejiang, where human rights activists have long been campaigning against female infanticide.

 

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