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China’s Agency That Enforces Birth Restrictions Will be Shut Down

The Chinese Government agency that was in charge of enforcing the country’s former notorious one-child policy will be shut down.

As part of a government reorganization, several agencies will be merged into one known as the National Health and Family Planning Commission. 

It appears as though China will be less focused on “family planning” and more focused on the aging population.

“According to the plan laid out this week at China’s annual legislative session, the new health agency will “actively deal with population aging,” handling issues such as the development of the elderly-care sector and overhauling an overburdened health-care system,” writes the Wall Street Journal. 

In the past, the controversial family planning agency would slap heavy fines on birth offenders, causing families to often have to resort to forced abortions.

“It is a historic change and watershed moment,” said Yi Fuxian, researcher at the University of Wisconsin and critic of China’s birth control policy to South China Morning Post. “China is shifting from population control to population development.” 

Since the Chinese government’s announcement to shut down the family planning commission, families have rejoiced. 

The agency “didn’t bring us any happiness; instead it turned China into an aging country,” said one commenter on the Weibo microblogging platform, according to the WSJ. “Time to set up the birth-facilitation commission.” 

“I’m not sad never to see them again,” said Huang Yanfang, an insurance agent in Hubei province.  

Yanfang was fined almost 100,000 yuan (about $15,000) for her second baby born in May of 2015. The one-child policy, which was put in place in 1980, was eventually declared null and void in 2016 and after a legal battle, the agency retracted Yanfang’s fine.

“In 2016, the first year after the policy was dropped, the number of newborns rose 7.9% from 2015, to 17.86 million. But last year, births dropped to 17.23 million, the National Statistics Bureau said in January. Officials have said the number of births are “within expectations,” writes WSJ.

There are now 17.3% of the people in China’s population over the age 60, versus just the 10% in this age group back in 1999.

Now the government is shifting its focus on fixing this dire demographic situation.

“The day when we hear about abandoning birth restrictions may not be far,” said Mr. Zuo at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences to the WSJ.

Although many are hopeful that China will be completely doing away with birth restrictions in the near future, the newly formed health and family-planning commission has yet to respond to requests for comment or to make a statement about the two-child policy.

Author’s note: Now that the two-child policy enforcement arm is going away, will less Chinese citizens be inclined to follow this law? Although China has not seen a massive increase in child births after implementing this birth restriction, the reason Chinese parents have a lot of children is engrained in the culture. It’s the tradition that children care for their parents in their old age. So, the more children, the more security in that sense. But, there is another reason why the population isn’t seeing a boost in childbirths. The standard of living in the country is already extremely low.

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