China massages its message on forced abortion

The Chinese government is trying to put a better PR gloss on it’s notoriously harsh one-child policy by changing the way it talks about the restrictions, issuing 190 “acceptable messages.”

Now-forbidden slogans:

  • One more baby means one more tomb.

  • Raise fewer babies but more piggies.
  • Houses toppled, cows confiscated, if abortion demand rejected.

    Acceptable slogans:

  • Mother earth is too tired to sustain more children.

  • Both boys and girls are parents’ hearts.

    While the slogans may be softer, the policy certainly isn’t. Just two weeks ago the government announced harsher penalties for “wealthier couples” in Hunan province who violate the one-child rule, increasing fines for having more than your allotted number of children to up to six times a couple’s annual income. The government said,

    “Many slogans promoting the family planning policy are poorly worded or full of strong language that leave an impression of simply forcing people to give up having more babies, causing misunderstanding on the policy and even tarnishing the image of the government. [...] If such low-quality slogans, which may cause complaint and resentment, are not corrected and remain where they are, the country’s family planning efforts in the new era will be hindered.”

    Yeah, I have to say, while the now-forbidden slogans were pretty crude, people aren’t judging the government on the basis of its catchphrases. We judge it on the basis of women’s terrible stories of forced abortions.

  • Join the Conversation

    • halstene

      it’s amazing really how the Chinese government is trying to soften the blow as they release its harsher penalties of the violations of the one-child only rule. i know of families who leave China to have another child in attempt to surpass the one-child-only rule. :/

    • Spider Jerusalem

      And forced sterilizations. Let us not forget those.

    • Daniel Burk

      I’m of the opinion that lowering the birth rate drastically is essentially the best chance we have of surviving as a species. The world really can’t sustain the amount of people we have now, and the birth rate just keeps going up.
      But the way China has handled this law is just disgusting. The way to keep the population from expanding to completely unmanageable levels is through education and fair reasoning. Not rampant, blatant fucking human rights violations. Ugh.
      (And hey Spider… Nice name you got there.)

    • Spider Jerusalem

      Why thank you, Burk. :)
      Yes, China had a hard time after the Cultural Revolution. They weren’t even supposed to TALK about sex, much less explain how reproduction through less sex could be prevented. It was only about a decade ago they started promoting condoms.

    • Chickensh*tEagle

      Daniel Burk — Lowering the birth rate too drastically would mean too few caregivers to handle today’s babies when they become old and dependent. It would mean minimum-wage workers flipping burgers with one hand while wiping bottoms with the other. There’s such a thing as too much success too soon.

    • TinyRobot

      It seems China’s one-child policy is eventually going to bite them in the ass.

    • SarahMC

      It already has bitten them in the ass, TinyRobot. You’d think they might have seen this problem coming (one child policy + misogyny = no women!).

    • SarahMC

      And you know what? This whole thing really chaps my ass – in China, girls and women are devalued so much that female fetuses are routinely aborted. It’s all about the boys until they grow into men and need wives. Then women are needed, to be wives. Because that’s all women are good for. Whoops!

    • jeff

      I wish there were a pretty way to do this, but I can’t help but kick the feeling that there will come a day when there is no other choice. I suspect those Chinese officials in charge of this program will tell you that that day has come – and it’s working.
      It’s terrifyingly un-feminist – well, inhuman actually. It’s handled poorly and cruelly, and unfairly. But what’s the other extreme? We simply never violate peoples’ right to knock out more kids until we simply drown ourselves? Nobody wants that future either, so what goes out the window? In the name of sex fairness, I’ll take forced sterilization.

    • jeff

      I think I meant, “I can’t kick the feeling”.

    • Daniel Burk

      Yeah, I agree. It’s totally something which would have to happen very gradually over at least a century or two. If we can last that long.

    • Lisa

      many single children facing the prospect of supporting two parents and four grandparents well into their old age
      Money is the best way to solve this. A small monthly payment to parents of girls (and then to women themselves after they turn 18, possibly funded by a small tax on parents of boys, would give parents an incentive to have a daughter and a cushion for their old age. In the agrarian areas, perhaps a yearly free cow or some chickens instead. Slogans are useless in the face of economic necessity, but a good shot of money will break any tradition. A son can: support his parents and grandparents, do rituals to honor dead ancestors, carry on the family name, and provide a daughter-in-law to do chores. A daughter can only: send a bit of support from her lower wages or whatever’s left over in the household budget after supporting her husband’s family and do chores after she finishes helping out at her mother-in-law’s house. Phrased that way, it’s a wonder that any couple in China has a daughter, except to use as a bargaining chip to find their son a wife.

    • Carmen Govani

      Scale experiment of the Chinese researchers from the Peking National research centre on planning a family has crowned success, informs The Independent: from 1000 volunteers children were born only at 1 % that is comparable by efficiency to female contraception in the form of tablets.