China’s former one-child policy was “one of the most draconian examples of government social engineering ever seen.” The policy was formally launched nationwide in 1980. In just a few years, however, central authorities decided to “open small holes” by allowing more couples to have a second child, after encountering difficulties in enforcing a uniform birth-control policy nationwide and a backlash against abusive enforcement measures, such as forced sterilizations.
The provinces were tasked with implementing that partial relaxation of the one-child policy. All provincial legislatures (except those of Xinjiang and Tibet) had adopted provincial birth-control legislation by the early 1990s. (Xinjiang eventually did so in 2002; Tibet still has not acted.) Such legislation translates the policy into concrete terms, specifying, among other things, exceptions to the one-child-per-couple rule and the penalties for above-quota births. Couples who exceed birth limits would face not only hefty fines called “social upbringing fees” [社会抚养费], but also discipline at work—including mandatory termination in a number of provinces.Continue reading “Recording & Review: Removing the Vestiges of the One-Child Policy”