Chinese officials have confirmed that they are reviewing the country's controversial one-child only policy for families and may consider making changes, though some organizations have remained skeptical over the announcement.
"China is still deliberating whether to further relax the country's one-child policy by allowing a couple in which only one party is an only child to have two children," the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday, revealing that Mao Qun'an, spokesman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, made the statement in response to media attention about the policies of the world's most populous country.
Some news reports, such as an article by the Telegraph on Monday, suggested that China is getting ready to end the one-child policy because of an upcoming aging crisis. But Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, told The Christian Post in an email that the Asian country "is certainly not ditching the One Child Policy."
Littlejohn's group has been campaigning to Chinese President Xi Jinping to end the one-child policy, which it says is responsible for a great deal of violence against women and girls, because of parents' tendency to keep boys over girls.
Littlejohn told CP on Monday that the fact that the FPC is studying such proposals "in no way justifies the blaring headline that China is 'to ditch' the policy" and said that the government has been studying the possibility for years.
"Even if this proposal were to be adopted, this would be far from a wholesale abandonment of the Policy," Littlejohn wrote, and noted that in January, Wang Xia, the chair of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, said that China "must unwaveringly adhere to the One Child Policy as a national policy to stabilize the low birth rate as the primary task."
"In addition, instituting a two-child policy will not end forced abortion. The problem with the One Child Policy is not the number of children 'allowed.' Rather, it is the fact that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) is telling women how many children they can have and then enforcing that limit through forced abortion, forced sterilization and infanticide. Even if all couples were allowed two children, there is no guarantee that the CCP will cease their appalling methods of enforcement," Littlejohn continued.
"Regardless of the number of children allowed, women who get pregnant without permission will still be dragged out of their homes, strapped down to tables and forced to abort babies that they want, even up to the ninth month of pregnancy. It does not matter whether you are pro-life or pro-choice on this issue. No one supports forced abortion, because it is not a choice."
A number of human rights organizations have called on China to end the one-child policy, which was established in 1978 and affects a large portion of the 1.3 billion-plus population. The one-child limit aims to reduce the number of poor and government-dependent people in the country, though many have said the government should not get in the way of natural family planning.
Mao affirmed that China still faces problems stemming from its huge population, such as weak economic foundations, sparse per capita resources and insufficient environmental capacity, and so it will continue adhering to the basic principles of the policy – but the National Health and Family Planning Commission will now look at ways to "improve" the rule.
The policy has already been relaxed once in 2007, when the government allowed couples in most Chinese provinces where both parents come from single-child families to give birth to two children.
Still, other analysts, such as Ting Lu and Xiaojia Zhi, China economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said that they believe the policy could at least be "eased" by the end of the year.
"We believe that the reform-minded president Xi and premier Li will use the opportunity of abolishing the one-child policy to build up their authority, show their determination in making changes and convince the Chinese people that they do have a roadmap for reforms," the economists wrote, according to CNBC Asia.
Other Chinese government organizations have been vocal about the need for the country to end the one-child policy, arguing that it must be changed to allow at least two-child households for every family by 2015, and remove all birth limits by 2020.
"China has paid a huge political and social cost for the policy, as it has resulted in social conflict, high administrative costs and led indirectly to a long-term gender imbalance at birth," Xie Meng, a press official for the China Development Research Foundation, said in October 2012.