The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), an advisory body that meets once a year in tandem with the National People’s Congress (NPC) for the policymaking “Two Sessions” this week, is deliberating suggestions to reverse China’s fast population decline.
Unmarried women would be granted full legal status and fertility services under one of the ideas. Only married women can lawfully give birth, register children, and obtain reproductive services under current Chinese national legislation.
Free college education and equal rights for unmarried women are among proposals being urged by members of China’s top political advisory body to boost the country's birth rate after its population fell last year for the first time in six decades https://t.co/CAxmQPQhAp
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 2, 2023
Unmarried moms have long been denied maternity benefits, in part because Chinese family planning regulations assume that all mothers are wed. Doing otherwise was long regarded as slightly scandalous, as an official government approval of immoral activity.
For example, until 2021, only Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong, allowed unmarried women to petition for maternal influence, and such applications are still rarely considered. Sichuan became the first province in China to grant unmarried parents full legal recognition and benefits in February of this year. In 2002, Jilin province attempted to enable single women access to in vitro fertilization, but it was overruled by national rules.
Unmarried women in China are often denied government maternity benefits.
But as the country’s birthrate plummets, some women are calling for a guaranteed policy — and for recognition of their right to make their own reproductive choices. https://t.co/AWiM3vV7Fe
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 1, 2021
The majority of provinces continue to have regulations that effectively penalize single parenthood. China also restricts maternity rights for gays and lesbians in general since it does not recognize same-sex marriage.
Few observers are under any illusions about why these rules are gradually changing: the Chinese leadership is panicked as fertility rates plummet and the population begins to shrink. The provincial health authorities expressly framed Sichuan’s experimental initiative to allow single parenthood as an endeavor to “support long-term and balanced population development.”
China faces the same problem as most other advanced countries, as young women choose to postpone marriage and child-rearing in order to focus on building their fortunes and developing their careers – but this comes after decades of harsh “One Child Policy” population controls that have left the current generation woefully short of fertile young women.
The One Child Policy was expanded to two children per family by dictator Xi Jinping in 2015, and it will be expanded again in 2021 to not only allow but promote larger families. But, the Chinese people is not responding with the expected fertility rates, leading to increasingly harsh government proposals. In fact, some Chinese were outspokenly furious that the government would practically require them to start having children after harshly punishing them for doing so for years.
The CPPCC will also investigate legislative incentives to subsidize children, such as tax breaks, extended maternity leave, and free college for a third child. On Thursday, the latter proposal from CPPCC delegate Gan Huatian, a professor at West China Hospital, quickly became a trending topic on Chinese social media.
“Education expense is the most important obstacle to promote giving birth. Free education for the third child is a good choice and the financial department can afford this expenditure,” Gan contended.