Chinese Lament: The One-Child Policy Change Came “Too Late”

Social media is buzzing with criticism over a policy that was in place for decades

A boy sits on his father's shoulders in Beijing, October 2011. — REUTERS
Oct 29, 2015 at 1:00 PM ET

Immediately after China announced on Thursday that its one harsh one-child policy will finally change, some took to social media to slam the fact that the rule has been in place for so many decades.

On China’s most popular social media platform Weibo, the hashtag — and topic — #FullSecondChildLiberalization particularly gained momentum after the ruling Communist party said that couples will now be allowed to have two kids. The topic had more than 2 million views and was discussed more than 5,400 times, while chatter about the policy change continued to swell by late Thursday morning.

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Some spewed anger at authorities for alleged hardships endured under the one-child rule. “When my mother gave birth to me, they punished [us by taking] all of the family’s savings,” said one Weibo user, suggesting that his mother had more than one kid. “The state should compensate me,” he said in a post that had more than 600 likes after just a few hours.

Others simply lamented that authorities didn’t scrap the rule sooner. “It’s too late,” a user posted.

The one-child policy was implemented in 1979 when the Chinese government was concerned that a rapidly growing population would hinder the country’s economic growth. In recent years, the rule has come under fire by human rights experts for oppressing Chinese families and forcing women to get abortions or get sterilized.

The lifting of the policy won’t necessarily lead to an all-out population boom, demographic experts have said. Some couples can’t afford to have two children — and some can’t afford even one. “I can give birth, but I cannot afford (to raise a child),” read a post that had more than 300 likes on Weibo by Thursday morning.

Others said the new two-child policy just gives authorities another chance to enforce more rules. “The next step: If you don’t give birth to a second child, you should pay a fine!” a Weibo user posted.

Still, not everyone was critical. Some used Weibo to celebrate the policy change and others joked that the government owes them a sibling.