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.

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