VIII-11 Question: Statistics show that a disproportionate sex ratio at birth has been one of China's prominent social problems. Is this related to China's family planning policy? What is the reason behind it, and how does the Central Government plan to deal with it?
A: There is a certain relation between the high incidence of baby boys born and China's family planning policy. The policy has indeed aggravated the imbalance of the sex ratio. However, there is no definite relations between the family planning policy and the imbalance.
The latest national census shows that China has many more baby boys than girls, with a sex ratio of 119 boys to 100 girls, which deviates greatly from the normal proportion of 106 to 100. This is indeed an urgent issue to address for the Chinese Government. There are many reasons behind it. Thanks to China's long feudalistic period, many Chinese, especially peasants, still think traditionally that raising sons to carry on their family names is the right thing, and that parents need to be taken care of by sons when they are old. Moreover, since the developmental level in the countryside is relatively low and the social security system is not mature, many families in the countryside still need manpower to do farming work, and males have a physical advantage than females in this aspect. Also, science and technology make ultrasonic check-ups possible, to identify the sex of the fetus. A pregnant woman can choose abortion to terminate her gravidity, if she finds out her child is female. All these factors contribute to a nationwide imbalance of sex ratio at birth.
The Chinese Government is now taking measures to deal with this problem. It promotes the idea of equality between men and women and opposes sex discrimination. In rural areas, with the improvement of the social security system, the Central Government grants a subsidy of no less than 600 yuan per person annually to couples who are over 60 years old and have only one child or two daughters, hoping to ensure the living quality of these old people will not be affected because of fewer children. Apart from this, to ensure a balanced sex ratio at birth, the Central Government has cracked down heavily on sex determination of embryos or fetuses based on non-medical needs. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China, the top legislative body of the country, has added related clauses in this regard to the Criminal Law of China.
It is also a fact that in other Eastern countries without birth control policies, the sex ratio imbalance does exist to a certain degree, and it is difficult to thoroughly change this status. The Chinese Government plans to completely alter the traditional belief that rearing sons can ensure a good old age, and also plans to totally eradicate illegal sex check-ups within 10 to 15 years.