How the Third Plenum will change people's lives

By Liu Qiang
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 29, 2013
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As the reforms are unveiled, the life of the Chinese people will change dramatically. [Xinhua photo]

As the reforms are unveiled, the life of the Chinese people will change dramatically. [Xinhua photo]

The Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee (the Plenum) has got Chinese people's hopes up with big reform ambitions. As the reforms are unveiled, the life of the Chinese people will change dramatically.

The Plenum adopted the CPC Central Committee's Decision on Several Major Issues on Comprehensively Deepening Reform (the Decision), which signaled a long list of unprecedented reforms. While some of the reforms will have immediate effects, some will take longer.

Birth control policy

The biggest change could be the relaxation of the one-child policy. According to the Decision, couples will be allowed to have two children if one of the parents is an only child. Traditionally, Chinese families prefer to have more than one child as China's elderly rely on their children for support in their old age. The policy change is bound to have widespread social ramifications; it will result in a reduction in forced abortions and an increase in the birth rate. Mao Qun'an, spokesman for China's National Health and Family Planning Commission, said "To loosen the one-child policy is a positive measure to address problems such as the decrease in the demographic dividend and labor shortages."


The Decision has created a national stir as it aims to reform the much-criticized "Gaokao system" or the national entrance examination for college. Currently, college admissions are mainly based on a single exam at the end of three years of high school study, which means that if you want to be admitted by a good university, you have to get a good Gaokao score. The phenomenon of the Gaokao determining one's destiny is common in China.

Tens of millions of Chinese high-school students are also required to choose to be a science student or a humanities student. Humanities students are required to study science subjects only for the first two years, but those subjects are not compulsory for them in the Gaokao. Similarly, science students do not take the humanities courses seriously because they have to focus on the more relevant subjects to out-perform others in the Gaokao. The Plenum aims to promote fair opportunities and a more balanced study for high-school students. The Decision said that China will explore the idea of reducing the number of subjects in the Gaokao, abolish the humanities-science division in high schools, and implement multiple testing of subjects such as English.

Hukou system

For decades, China's Hukou system, or household registration system, has been an obstacle for rural residents to settle down in urban areas. The Plenum has promised to ease restrictions on rural migration to cities. The Decision said that China will abolish restrictions on rural residents to settle in towns and small cities, and ease restrictions on rural migration to medium-sized cities step by step, put in place proper requirements for residence in big cities, and strictly control the population size in large cities. The policy change will facilitate the movement of citizens and boost domestic consumption particularly in small and medium-sized cities.

Judicial openness

The Plenum signaled that China is serious about pushing forward the rule of law, particularly judicial openness. The Decision read "China will optimize the allocation of its judicial functions and powers, improve the mechanism where judicial organs share responsibilities, cooperate with and check up on each other. China will also strengthen and regulate the legal and social supervision of judicial activities. "

On the morning of Nov. 21, the Supreme People's Court launched its Sina Weibo account. Its first 127-character post read: "In order to honor the promises of the Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee, promote judicial openness, and expand the channels for people to gain [information], participate and supervise judicial activities, the SPC account has been officially launched today. As the official Weibo account of the Supreme People's Court of China, it will publish important adjudicative information from the people's courts at all levels, as well as major judicial interpretations and legal news."

The Chinese people have every reason to be excited, as the Plenum releases a new round of sweeping reforms. They are now hoping for more concrete actions to fulfill the pledges.

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