But the law never really stopped people from having kids if they had the money to pay the fines.
It did stop some other people from having kids, though. People in rougher parts of the country had to deal with law enforcers who brutally forced sterilizations and abortions.
So most people (inside and out of China) are happy about this step forwards.
Though some remain cynical, such as one blogger (whose comment was quickly deleted by... someone), who said, “It’s funny how human rights work around here. Our government took hostage our basic rights not to be tortured and to decide the size of our family years ago. Now that they are trading it back to us in tiny drips and drops, are we somehow expected to kowtow in gratitude and say our heartiest thank you?”
There's no doubt that the one child policy was rife with injustice, bad interpretations of the law, and bad actions carried out. No wonder everyone hated it. No doubt the loosening of the law is an egalitarian step forwards.
You probably know that i view everything through environmentally coloured glasses. And I am very very concerned about the effect that the human population is having on the planet. And the effect that people in developed nations have on the planet is much much bigger than those in 2nd/3rd world countries.
Hell, it takes a lot of resources to build our airports and ski lifts, to heat and carpet our homes, to bring us our French wine and imported quinoa. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. And you can bet that the growing Chinese population will also quickly develop their taste for imported wine and warm homes. Trust me.
I always think about my grade 12 biology class, when I learned about the population J-curve.
So in fact, i recall the above right-hand graph in reference to fruit flies living in a closed system whereupon they reached the point where they'd consumed their resources faster than the resources could be regenerated, and the J-curve essentially mirrored itself.
Slow rise, fast incline, peak, fast decline, then slowing down after the masses had died.
I fear the decline, and weirdly think about it a lot, come to think of it.
So human rights problems and all, I still support the one child policy for China. In fact, I support one child policies for every country. Yes, I know that's a huge simplification that doesn't address many developed countries and provinces with declining populations, etc, etc.
But still, I worry that on the whole, the planet's population is probably already beyond the planet's carrying capacity. Our at least for the way we live. And hell, who doesn't want to live the high life? Who wouldn't want to take a free airplane to Guizhou to run a 100km? Who wouldn't complain to the boss that Hey I Write for the Travel Section, So Why Don't You Send Me Somewhere? I admit it, I finally relented and stopped buying Chinese wine. It generally sucks, and there's places to get cheaply priced stuff from Australia or wherever.
In my heart, I feel that there will be a time when things on this planet will be very unpleasant for Humanity in general. I suspect that you and I will see a little bit of what that will look like. The one child policy is just one factor, but it's definitely a much much bigger factor than statusq choosing to use public transit/bike to go to work.
Pic by me, taken during the Guizhou race.