Is China Finally Dropping Its Two-Child Policy? Depends Who You Ask

By Nassir Ali, August 30, 2018

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Rumors have recently resurfaced that China is preparing to end its decades-long family planning policy setting a cap on the number of kids couples can have. 

The major news stemmed from a social media post over the weekend by the Procuratorate Daily, a state-run newspaper. According the Weibo post, any content related to family planning was not included in the marriage section of a draft Civil Code set to be deliberated by China's key lawmakers on Monday of this week.

Speculation was further fueled earlier this month when China Post revealed the design of its postage stamp for 2019, which featured a family of two pigs and three piglets to usher in the Year of the Pig. When the one-child policy was abandoned at the end of 2015, a stamp for the upcoming Chinese New Year featured a pair of baby monkeys, in what many believed was a nod to the two-child policy.

Pig Family Stamps
Pig family stamps from China Post. Image via Weibo

But is the two-child policy going away for good? It depends who you ask.

In response to this week's rumors, state-run English-language newspaper China Daily reported that the removal of stipulations on family planning from the draft code didn't necessarily mean that China's family planning policy would be coming to an end.

Legislators explained that a special law on family planning already exists, meaning there would be no need to include similar content in the civil code.   

READ MORE: China May Scrap its Two-Child Policy This Year 

Li Mingshun, a law professor at China Women's University, explained that the marriage section of the civil code is mainly intended to regulate the rights of family members. 

"As for whether family planning policy will be abolished, that's not under the regulation of the marriage section of the civil code," Li told China Daily. 

Meanwhile, some experts have speculated that the removal of family planning content from the draft is an effort to catch up with China's quickly changing demographics.

Indeed, China has been loosening its family planning policies in light of its population growing older, declining birth rates and a shrinking workforce. The last major move the government made was in 2015, when it abolished the one-child policy that had existed since 1979, allowing couples to have up to two children.  

China's population is aging rapidly
China's population is aging rapidly. Image via Magalie L'Abbé/Flickr

This latest draft of the Civil Code, slated for adoption in 2020, can still be interpreted as a clear sign that the government is aiming to rejuvenate the nation's aging population of 1.4 billion. 

"It's quite clear that the Chinese government is increasingly alarmed at the low birth rate and the failure to produce the expected boost in births by easing the one-child policy," Leta Hong Fincher, author of Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China, told Agence France-Presse.

Additional contribution by Bridget O'Donnell

[Top image via Caro/Flickr] 

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