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Sharpen the one-child policy

Chinese officials are increasingly threatening Chinese women to have an abortion.


[policy] It has already prevented 400 million Chinese from being born. Now China's one-child policy will be further tightened.

"If we find women who are pregnant despite the fact that they already have one child, we try to force them to have an abortion," said Xu Xinping, chief physician at the Ninth People's Hospital in Shenzhen in southern China.

She is one of those who is working to put the controversial provision to life. Xu is a sympathetic woman. She is active in the Red Cross in her spare time. But the methods she uses would in many countries be considered abusive.

- If the man works as a civil servant, we threaten with dismissal for the woman to have an abortion. We also target peasant women. If the pregnancy has gone so far that it cannot be terminated, we sterilize them immediately after they have given birth, Xu says.

Since the one-child policy was first carved out in the 1970s, it has prevented 400 million births, the Family Planning Commission reports. If you have more than one child, fines are often punished. Over the coming decades, the population will grow by eight to ten million people a year. It will create new challenges for the country's social and economic development, according to a report published last week. More resources should therefore be set aside for family planning and the fines raised.

The document also points to the importance of enforcing regulations against the 150 million workers who have emigrated from the countryside to the cities. According to the rules, these are allowed to have two children if the first is a girl. Beijing authorities are also calling for ultrasound examinations and abortions based on the child's gender. This has led to a rising surplus of boys. In 2005, 118 boys were born per 100 girls in China. The normal ratio is about 106 boys per 100 girls. In some regions, there are now 130 boys per 100 girls.

The one-child policy has led to growing irritation among the middle class. A common belief is that the poor are blowing the fines. They can't afford it anyway. And for the rich, it is a matter of small money. In a survey conducted by a Chinese newspaper and website, almost 70 percent responded that "the rich and famous" can break the rules.

According to the rules, most couples living in cities can only have one child, while in the countryside you can have two. Today, the figure is estimated at 1,3 billion Chinese. By 2020, there will be 940 million Chinese working-age people, and the turmoil over how all of these will get jobs is growing.

Translated by Kristian Bjørkdahl

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