IV. Bringing the People to a Common
Level of Understanding
The traditional child-bearing viewpoints formed in long years of Chinese history still profoundly affect people's attitudes to child-bearing; in particular a certain distance still exists between the viewpoints and will of a number of rural people and the state's demands for controlling population growth. Without the people's awareness, family planning can hardly be practised. Therefore, the Chinese government attaches great importance to educating the people to practise family planning of their own free will and strives to create the economic and cultural conditions for people to change their child-bearing viewpoints.
The publicity and education of family planning conducted in China according to its actual conditions and the population situation have made the whole society see that to control the rapid population growth is its responsibility and its urgent task. From the 1980s, all regions of China began one after another the activity of "doing accounts and making contrasts," during which people were organized to do accounts and make contrasts of the national and local changes after the founding of New China in terms of the population growth, per-capita cultivated land, grain supply and income, education, employment, housing and transportation, the differences in living standards between the families with more children and those with fewer children, and the benefits of family planning to the state and people. The activity has played an active role in helping people see clearly the nation's actual situation and practise family planning of their own accord.
Since 1987, China has put into practice the plan on popularizing the basic knowledge of population and family planning, with the rural areas as the key points. At present, a number of villages and neighbourhoods have set up population or marriage education schools. The people at different childbearing ages and those in different situations may obtain scientific knowledge of population, childbirth, contraception and birth control, maternity and child care through the lectures or advice given by doctors, teachers and cadres. Then they may practise family planning more conscientiously. For instance, in Tieling City located in the northern mountain areas of Liaoning Province, whose agricultural population makes up 80 percent of the total, more than 700,000, or 95 percent, of the couples of child-bearing age received education from 1987 to 1991. In the past, of the city's annual newly born babies, about 10 percent were born to parents who married early and had children early; and the rate of births with genetic defects reached nearly 15 per thousand because of the marriage between close relatives, or hereditary and endemic diseases. After education, the percentage of the people who married early and had children early dropped to below 1 percent and the birth defect rate, to below 8 per thousand in 1991. Now 92 percent of the couples of child-bearing age in the city have adopted birth control measures of their own accord.
Cadres at all levels taking the lead in practising family planning has exerted great influences among the people all over the country. For instance, each of over 50,000 cadres and Party members in Rudong County, Jiangsu Province has exemplarily implemented the state's family planning policy. Under their influence, the broad masses of the people actively respond to the government's call and practise family planning of their own free will.
The activities of family planning associations in all areas have also played an important role in publicity and education. Consisting of people from all walks of life who are interested in family planning, these associations are mass organizations with an extensive social basis. Up to now, all 30 provinces, autonomous regions and centrally administered municipalities as well as the overwhelming majority of the cities, counties and grass-roots units have set up their family planning associations, totalling more than one million with approximately 80 million members. Their members keep in close touch with the broad masses of the couples of child-bearing age. A family planning work situation with self-education and self-management as the mainstay is being formed step by step.
China makes full use of newspapers, radio, television, publication, theatre, music, local performances and schools to educate people about family planning. In addition, it has also set up a family planning publicity and education network reaching all parts of the country. In the late 1980s, all provinces, autonomous regions and centrally administered municipalities and the cities with economic planning directly supervised by the State Council (except Tibet Autonomous Region) set up regional family planning publicity and education centres one after another, which produced more than 1,600 television programmes and video tapes, and numerous publicity materials of various kinds. By 1994, two administrative officials' colleges, eight secondary professional schools and 26 provincial training centres had been founded as part of the national family planning system. Each city, county and township has a family planning service station focused on publicity and education; and all residents' and villagers' committees have a member responsible for propagating birth control education. Educational institutions of higher learning and research institutes in China also take an active part in training and research in population and birth control. The China Population Society, the China Population Culture Promotion Society and other organizations have also played an active role in organizing demographers, literary and art workers and people from all walks of life to participate in family planning work.
Publicity and education, which has resulted in the common understanding and conscientious participation of hundreds of millions of people, is the fundamental guarantee of the successful implementation of family planning in China.