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Change in birth policy demands new attitude

HONG KONG (UCAN): Five years ago, Maria Yang rejected the idea of becoming pregnant again. She had all sorts of worries: tedious childcare, less freedom and the economic burden of quitting her job.

Today, her second son is seven-months-old. Her change of mind came while taking part in a new catechumen group in her parish in northeastern China. She said that she and her husband learned to be more open to life.

Although the Chinese government made a nuanced numerical readjustment in turning its one-child policy to a two-child policy on January 1, the parish priest of this unofficial Church community said that the birth control policy—old or new—was never the concern to couples in his parish.

Since Yang’s baby was born before the introduction of the two-child policy, she still may be fined. “We haven’t got him registered yet,” she said.

According to official statistics, China is estimated to have 13 million unregistered people, mostly due to violations of the one-child policy that started in 1979. Parents of unregistered children can be fined and their children are ineligible for public school and other social benefits.

Like many others in China, Yang said she “simply wanted to have more children. The national policy or a penalty was not our concern.”

Many believe the new two-child policy is not about human rights, but set forth to address the needs of an aging society and to boost domestic economy.

“The concept of human rights does not exist in China’s value standard. It is not the reason for the government to relax the policy,” a former journalist, who identified herself as Clare, commented.

Ng Wai-kit, a professor of economics at Hong Kong City University, said the consideration of the two-child policy is the same as that when China introduced the one-child policy. “It is an economic measure. The population is too huge and it puts pressures on society.”

Before these economic aims have yielded any results, new family issues have already popped up—threats of suicide from little emperors, the doted on only children born under the one-child policy.

Since China doubled its legal birth rate quota per couple, there have been occasional reports of doted on children threatening to kill themselves if their parents give birth to another child.

In the Church, however, a more open attitude to life helped Yang’s eldest son, Liu Jianbo, adjust to life with a sibling.

“I support my parents’ decision. This is what I learned in Church. We have to be open to God’s gift. And if you want to become a Christian, you have to be a giver of love,” Yang’s 18-year-old son said.

Children of parishioners who have brothers and sisters say that more children bring a joyful change into the atmosphere of a family.

“My relation with my mother was not particularly good in the past. We argued a lot. Now with the birth of my brother, I understand my responsibility in the family,” Liu said.

Another woman, who identified herself as Annie, said she definitely wants to have a second child, as she herself was raised in a two-child family. “More children make a family merrier,” she said.

Zhong Xuebin said that as the adjusted birth policy is still a topic of discussion among young couples, the Church should seize the opportunity to spread Catholic teaching on birthright, so that more people will understand the goodness of procreation.


He said that nowadays, some people are so indifferent to abortion that they treat it like going to the doctor for the flu, but this is the baseline of life.

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