After seeing this story on the Chinese legislative body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, deciding not to criminalize sex-selective abortion, Shanghaiist was admittedly surprised that this practice had not actually already been outlawed. Turns out that currently, selective abortion is only in violation of much less stringent family planning regulations which have no clear provisions for any sort of punishment. These regulations do have a significant effect on clinics practicing selective abortion, but still a very limited reach when it comes to individuals actually getting the abortions. Some of the reasons the lawmakers shied away from this decision are understandable:
Lawmakers and officials at the National Population and Family Planning Commission are reportedly concerned that draconian sanctions would merely drive the widespread practice underground. Prosecution could also prove problematic as couples can simply cite valid reasons to justify gender-motivated terminations.
But Shanghaiist still has reservations about the government’s ongoing pragmatism on the matter, which apparently reflects the government’s understanding of its inability to reinforce central decrees and feeds into a vicious cycle of reluctance to take some difficult but necessary steps sooner rather than later. Understandably, outlawing selective abortion would require extraordinary enforcement efforts, clashing with centuries of tradition. But as a matter of social stability, it is in the government’s best interest to take responsibility for the consequences of its controversially successful one-child policy, a policy adopted in spite of China’s overwhelming traditional male child preference.
In other dubious legislative news found through the ever-unlinkable South China Morning Post, the busy NPC Standing Committee is deciding whether it should strengthen its control over Mainland media:
Mainland media outlets will face fines ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 yuan if they break news on emergencies such as natural disasters without authorisation, according to a draft law being reviewed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.
Media organisations would also be penalised if they report on the handling and developments of such emergencies without authorisation, or publish false reports about disasters.
The law also stipulates officials in charge of handling the emergencies should release information to the public and “manage” media reports on time. However, they are not required to make the news public if it will inhibit their work.
Hrm. And what exactly constitutes these “emergencies”? Quite an inclusive list of incidents likely to get an increasing number of journalists, activists and protestors into trouble in the future:
Public emergencies include natural disasters, accidents, public health crises and social security crises, such as protests and clashes between farmers and local officials, which are on the rise.