Chinese Approaches to Family Planning

Chinese Approaches to Family Planning

Chinese Approaches to Family Planning

Chinese Approaches to Family Planning

Excerpt

"The state advocates and encourages family planning." This is not a casual remark made by a Chinese guide to a visiting delegation. It is an excerpt from Article 53 of China's new Constitution, adopted on March 3, 1978, which makes the People's Republic of China one of just a handful of countries which have written population control into the highest law of the land. Addressing the Fifth National People's Congress, which put its stamp of approval on the Constitution, Hua Kuo-feng further stressed the importance China is now attaching to population control by stating, "We must continue to give (family planning) serious attention and strive to lower the annual rate of growth of China's population to less than 1 percent within three years." This is indeed a most ambitious goal. Does the Chinese leadership believe it to be realistic or, as in so many of China's stated objectives, is it intended simply to emphasize the nation's commitment and to stimulate enthusiasm for family planning? Could Peking be so optimistic about the prospects of achieving a 1 percent growth rate that it is willing to risk losing a certain amount of prestige in even suggesting the possibility of success?

In the past thirty years, vacillations in China's official attitudes toward population and family planning have closely followed the political shifts and struggles — albeit in the case of family planning the changes shifted with the speed of a tide rather than a tidal wave. The first birth control campaign was . . .

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