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China: Sweeping Changes to Radical Laws, One Child Policy Eased

Posted: November 23rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: China | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on China: Sweeping Changes to Radical Laws, One Child Policy Eased

China: Sweeping Changes to Radical Laws, One Child Policy EasedChina has unveiled sweeping changes to some of its most controversial laws including its one-child policy and its forced labour camps. The major policy shift also includes reductions on the application of the death penalty, reforms to a widely abused “petition” system and changes in a residency registration scheme.

The changes, revealed by the official Xinhua news agency, were announced days after a meeting of the country’s top Communist Party leaders.

Couples will now be allowed to have two children if one of the parents is an only child, significantly widening the exceptions to a rule introduced in 1979 to control China’s then exploding population, now the world’s largest.

The one-child policy is controversial both within and outside China, the policy has at times been brutally enforced, with authorities relying on permits, fines and in some cases forced sterilisations and late-term abortions, often triggering public outrage ::::

One child policy

Above: “Please for the sake of your country, use birth control”. Government sign found in the entry to the alley slums in Nanchang. These slums are where the pregnant women hide from the government officials enforcing the one child policy.

Critics also argue that it has contributed to the gender imbalance of about six boys born for every five girls, with sex-specific abortions remaining common. Beijing’s statisticians warned this year that China’s working-age population had begun to shrink for the first time in recent decades, falling by 3.45 million to 937 million in 2012.

Many consider the term “one-child” policy a misnomer, the policy allows many exceptions: rural families can have a second child if the first child is a girl or is disabled, and ethnic minorities are exempt. Families where both parents are the only children are also allowed to have two children. Residents of the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, and foreigners living in China are also exempt from the policy. In 2007, approximately 35.9% of China’s population was subject to a one-child restriction.

One-child Policy

  • This policy was introduced in 1979 to alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems in China.
  • Authorities say the policy prevented 400 million babies being born, however the policy has been implicated in an increase in forced abortions, female infanticide, and underreporting of female births.
  • Non-compliance was punished with fines, and in some cases, forced sterilisation and late-term abortions.
  • Men now outnumber women six to five, due to social preferences for sons.
  • A 2008 survey undertaken by the Pew Research Center reported that 76 percent of the Chinese population support the policy.
  • Under new law, couples can have two children if one of the parents is an only child.

“The birth policy will be adjusted and improved step by step to promote ‘long-term balanced development of the population in China’,” Xinhua said.

The law currently restricts most parents to one child, with exceptions including some rural families whose first child is a girl, ethnic minorities, and couples who are both only children.

Joan Kaufman, director of the Columbia Global Centres in Beijing and an public health expert, called the relaxation a “long overdue” move that will ease concerns about care for China’s elderly population.

“There’s no concern about overpopulation in China anymore. Couples are having fewer kids. They’re not replacing themselves,” Ms Kaufman said, noting that the fertility rate is well below the “replacement” rate of 2.1.

But the head of Human Rights Watch Australia, Elaine Pearson says more needs to be done.

“Because of the very serious underlying problems and human rights violations that have been associated with the policy,” Ms Pearson said. “The fact that women have been forced to undergo sterilisation, forced abortions and so on. And you still have that legal framework in place.”

The changes were contained in a 22,000-word document on “major issues concerning comprehensively deepening reforms”, which comes three days after a key meeting of the Communist leadership in Beijing.

The gathering, known as the Third Plenum, has historically been the venue for major reform announcements, and comes one year after new leaders took charge of the ruling party.

Labour Camps Also Set to Go

China will also abolish its controversial “re-education through labour” system, under which police panels can sentence offenders to up to four years in camps without a trial, the document said.

Xinhua said the move was “part of efforts to improve human rights and judicial practices”, which also included reducing the number of crimes subject to the death penalty.

The deeply unpopular labour camp system is largely used for petty offenders but also blamed for rights abuses by officials seeking to punish “petitioners” who try to complain about them to higher authorities.

Under the scheme, introduced in 1957, people can be sent for up to four years by a police panel without a court appearance.

Chinese Labour Camps – 劳动教养 – Re-education Through Labour, RTL:

  • Introduced in 1957 to handle minor offenders, such as drug offenders and petty criminals.
  • Offenders could be sentenced for up to four years in work camps without a trial.
  • Many prisoners face long days manufacturing goods or doing agricultural work.
  • The UN estimated the system held 190,000 people in 2009.
  • Critics say the camps are used to silence government critics.
  • After facing years of pressure to reform, the system is being scrapped.

The government says a new system will be unveiled by the year’s end. Reports on RTL have found it difficult to estimate the number of people in re-education centres, and official nationwide statistics are unavailable. What data has become available is often inaccurate. A 2009 United Nations report estimated that such facilities held 190,000 Chinese.

Sentencing for RTL is generally carried out by the police rather than by the judicial system, so individuals are rarely charged or tried before being detained. Life in the camps can vary widely, but many prisoners face extremely long work days manufacturing goods or doing agricultural work.

Pressure to change the system has been building for years. In a high-profile case last year, Tang Hui, a mother from Hunan province, was sentenced for petitioning repeatedly after her 11-year-old daughter was kidnapped and forced to work as a prostitute.

Maya Wang, a researcher for overseas-based campaign group Human Rights Watch, welcomed the move but cautioned that the replacement was not yet known. She said other forms of extralegal detention remain in place, and “the suppression of dissent continues”.

State media said in January that the system would be abolished, but the reports were swiftly deleted and replaced with predictions of reform, with few details and no timetable. Details about the planned reforms were released in a statement after the Third Plenum meeting earlier this week.

Raft of Sweeping Economic Changes

Economic changes announced on last week signal that authorities will loosen their grip on the world’s second-largest economy, which experts say needs restructuring to ensure long-term growth.

The plans include requiring state firms to pay the government larger dividends and allowing private companies a bigger role in the economy, the document said.

China will also “accelerate the reform” of its household registration or “hukou” system, which bars rural residents from equal access to benefits such as healthcare and education when they move to cities.

The move could bolster authorities’ drive to increase urbanisation as a way to lift living standards. China also pledged to reform a petition system, where citizens seeking to lodge complaints against authorities often end up in unofficial “black jails”.

“Authorities must respond to and terminate cases within the legal framework,” Xinhua said, without elaborating.

Users of China’s Twitter-like Weibo cheered the reforms, although some sounded a little bittersweet…

“Thanks to the active participation of the public and media and the advocacy of legal activists. This proves the truth that rights can only be obtained through a fight,” wrote one poster, another user said of former labour camp prisoners: “Those who paid a heavy price will be emotional tonight.”

RELATED! China: Surgeons Stitch New Nose to Man’s Forehead

Xiaolian Grows Nose on Forehead: Image via ReutersBazaar images have been emerged of a Chinese man who has grown a new, replacement nose on his forehead.

Xiaolian, a 22-year-old, underwent treatment at a hospital in Fuzhou in Fujian province to create a replacement nose after his original became infected as a result of an auto accident in 2012.

Xiaolian failed to seek medical treatment in the aftermath of the accident, allowing a serious infection, causing his nose cartilage to corrode, surgeons were unable to fix the original nose.

This odd alternative has been grown by placing a skin tissue expander onto Xiaolian’s forehead, sculpting it into the shape of a nose, transplanting cartilage from the man’s ribs :: Read the full article »»»»

RELATED! China: Baby Throwing Drunk Cop Arrested

CHINA POLICEUPDATED! 20 August 2013 :: Regional authorities have suspended three senior officials at a local police bureau including the bureau chief after one of its police officers was detained for allegedly throwing a seven-month-old baby girl to the ground, fracturing her skull, state media said on Monday ::

19 August 2013: Chinese authorities are investigating a policeman who grabbed a seven-month-old baby girl from her parents and threw her on the ground, fracturing her skull, according to state media.

Guo Zengxi, a policeman from the central city of Linzhou, in Henan province, was on his way to a karaoke bar after drinking with friends one evening last month when he saw a man holding a baby accompanied by his wife.

After betting with his friends that the child was just a doll, the policeman touched her face then grabbed her from her father, before lifting her up and smashing the child on the ground :: Read the full article »»»»

RELATED! China: Lion Barks it’s Way OUT of Stardom

Chinese Lion Barks it’s Way Out of StardomA Chinese zoo’s supposed star “African lion” was exposed as a fraud, when the beast began to bark …as in woof woof!

The zoo in the People’s Park of Luohe, in the central province of Henan, replaced exotic exhibits with common species, according to the state-run Beijing Youth Daily newspaper.

The paper quoted a mother who was visiting the zoo to show her son the different sounds animals made, however the child pointed out that the animal in the cage labelled African lion was barking.

The beast was in fact a Tibetan mastiff, a large and long-haired breed of dog :: Read the full article »»»»

Felicity Evans ա @m_dangerfield

source: xinhuanet
source: weibo
source: afp
source: abc
source: wikipedia

image source: wikipedia


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