III. Combination of State Guidance with
Voluntary Participation by the Masses
Due to its vast territory, large population and the great differences between regions, urban and rural areas and ethnic groups, the promotion of family planning in China is a highly complicated task. When working out the policies of population and family planning, and the objectives of population control in accordance with the actual conditions in the country, the Chinese government took into consideration the needs of the social and economic development of the state and its longrange interests, as well as the actual conditions of different regions, ethnic groups and social strata, the people's wishes and attitudes, to combine state guidance with voluntary participation by the masses.
The combination of state guidance with voluntary participation is an important principle China has always followed since the implementation of the family planning policy, and is the fundamental guarantee of success for the family planning programme as well. The main manifestations of state guidance include: The central and local governments, in accordance with the national conditions and people's will, and through legislative procedures, have formulated the policies, laws and regulations concerning the control of population growth, the improvement of the life quality of population and the optimization of the population structure; worked out the macro population development plan, and integrated it in the overall plan for national economic and social development; placed population control and family planning in the government's major agenda, organized and coordinated all relevant departments and mass organizations to draw up and implement the programmes on population and family planning, and provided necessary funds and conditions to guarantee the needs of both causes; and, through extensive and in-depth publicity and education all over the country, provided guidance and services to all couples and individuals in terms of reproductive health care, contraception and birth control, healthy child birth and rearing to help them in proper arrangement of family planning.
Voluntary participation is mainly manifested in the fact that, under the guidance of the state's relevant policies and legislation, the right of all couples and individuals to carry out family planning is protected and respected. While exercising their right of child bearing, couples and individuals must take into account their responsibilities and duties to the state and community, and the health and happiness of the family and all its members. On the basis of effective information, advice and services and in accordance with the age, health, work and family economic conditions, couples and individuals can arrange for pregnancy and child bearing in a responsible and planned way, and select proper contraceptive methods so as to have healthy children and happy, progressive families.
A family planning policy that conforms to the state's actual conditions and embodies classified guidance is an important component part of exercising state guidance. The main contents of the current family planning policy in China are: Advocating delayed marriage and delayed child bearing, fewer and healthier births; and advocating one child for one couple. Some rural couples with actual difficulties are allowed to give birth to a second child a few years after the birth of the first child. The national minorities are also required to practise family planning, and concrete demands and approaches to the policy are decided by each autonomous region or the province in which the national minorities live. There are practical differences in the family planning policy between urban and rural areas, and between the Han and the ethnic minorities, i.e., the policy for rural areas is more flexible than for urban areas; for national minorities more flexible than for the Han people. Each province (autonomous region or municipality) will formulate the corresponding policy and regulations in accordance with the state's policy and the actual local conditions and form its local legislation through legal procedures.
One child for one couple is a necessary choice made under China's special historical conditions to alleviate the grim population situation. One child for one couple does not mean to "have one child" under all circumstances, but rather, while encouraging couples to have only one child, to plan arrangements for couples who have real difficulties and need to have a second child to do so. In China's cities and towns where family planning was introduced earlier and the economic, cultural, educational, public health and social security conditions are better, the overwhelming majority of couples of child-bearing age who are pleased with a small family have responded to the government's call and volunteered to have only one child. In 1990, of the non-agricultural population in China's urban localities, the total fertility rate of women dropped to 1.26, or 1.05 lower than the nation's average figure. In the countryside, the total fertility birth rate of women was 2.8.
China is a multi-ethnic country, the population of the national minorities making up about 8 percent of the country's total. To raise the economic and educational levels of the national minority areas and improve the life quality of the population, since the early 1980s the Chinese government has also advocated family planning in the areas inhabited by national minorities, except for Tibet and sparsely populated minority areas. The concrete policies are worked out by the national minority autonomous areas and the relevant provinces and autonomous regions according to specific local conditions. In general, a couple in agricultural and pastoral areas is allowed to have two children; and a more flexible policy is adopted to farmers and herdsmen with actual difficulties. Since the founding of New China, the population growth rate of the national minorities has been not only higher than that before Liberation, but also higher than that of the Han people in the corresponding period. The total population of the national minorities increased from 35 million in 1953 to 91.32 million in 1990. Between 1982 and 1990 after the practice of family planning in the areas inhabited by minority people, the population of the national minorities increased by 35.81 percent, or 3.27 times the growth of the Han population in the same period.
The state has imposed no specific requirements on Tibet in family planning. In 1985, the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region, in view of the actual population growth there, began to advocate family planning among Tibetan cadres, workers and staff, encouraging each couple to voluntarily space two births at reasonable intervals. Among the broad masses of farmers and herdsmen, the government has mainly educated them in child-bearing knowledge, advocated healthier birth and child-rearing practices, improved health care for women and children, and provided contraceptives and birth control technical services to those who volunteer to practise birth control. No policy restrictions have ever been imposed on the number of births in the agricultural and pastoral areas. The fourth national population census in 1990 revealed that Tibetan people in the Tibet Autonomous Region numbered 2.0967 million, making up 95.48 percent of the total population in Tibet.
China encourages fertile married couples to select contraceptive methods of their own accord under the guidance of the state; and offers various preferential treatments in daily life, work and many other aspects to families who volunteer to have only one child, helps them to solve difficulties in their lives and work and creates conditions for them to become better off as soon as possible. Assessments are imposed on multi-birth families to enable society to bring up their children. This represents both a restriction on having too many childbirths and an obligation of those responsible to pay a certain compensation to society. Assessments for this purpose are made according to local legislation, but the amounts thus collected must in no way affect the family's basic livelihood and their needs in keeping up production and management. All funds so collected will be used to further family planning.
Practice has proved that China's current policy on family planning conforms to the fundamental interests of the people throughout the country; meanwhile it also takes into account part of the people's wishes and attitudes. Hence the policy has won understanding and support from the people of the whole country and has guaranteed the success of the family planning work.