China’s New ‘Two-Child Policy’: Still Coercive

The end of the One-Child Policy will not mean the end of coercive birth control in China. This critical fact must be underscored. The Chinese government is not retiring its enormous apparatus of involuntary population plan enforcement. Beijing is not relinquishing its claim that the state, rather than parents, is the proper authority for deciding how many children China’s families may have. Instead, the Chinese Communist Party is merely preparing to recalibrate the limit that it will impose on its subjects. By all indications, the sorts of ugly human rights violations that other witnesses will be describing here this morning—up to and including criminalizing out-of-quota pregnancies and forcibly compelling abortions against the will of the mother—will still be very much part and parcel of China’s population policy agenda.

Among the many unanswered questions concerning coercive birth control in China, the most important—and perhaps also surprising— is its ultimate demographic impact. Strange as this may sound, demographers and population specialists have yet to offer a plausible and methodologically defensible estimate of just how much this extraordinarily ambitious and ruthless adventure in social engineering has actually altered the size and composition of China’s population.

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