In an official letter that went viral last Wednesday, the Health and Family Planning Commission of Yichang, one of the largest cities in Hubei province, encouraged local Party leaders to serve the people and have that second kid.
In the letter, which was published on September 13th, the commission exhorted local government leaders and Communist Party Youth League members to take the lead and be a “model for implementing family planning.” According to the South China Morning Post, the letter added that “Young comrades should start from themselves, while elderly comrades should educate and supervise their children.” In other words, everyone has to pitch in and encourage childbirth.
The SCMP reports that the rationale for this new policy comes from China’s dwindling workforce and growing elderly population. Although the two-child policy went into effect at the start of this year, many Chinese couples remain reluctant to have another kid. According to a New York Times article on Yichang’s policy, Sina users cited expensive living costs and personal choice as reasons why they weren’t taking advantage of the two-child policy. However, Yichang’s government wants public leaders and young people to start leading the way in changing people’s perceptions, in a movement that could go nationwide.
On Sina News and Weibo, users reacted strongly to the Yichang letter. On a Sina article, one user remarked, “And 36 years ago, having a second child would get you expelled from the civil service. What exquisite irony!”. Another user posted a moving story on how in the past the local government had demanded that people practice strict birth control, concluding that she was “tired of crying.”
On Weibo, one of the top posts read, “Giving birth or not is a personal decision.” Another comment expressed similar frustration, calling out the government for intruding too much into their personal lives: “If you say give birth, then we have to give birth. If you say don’t give birth, then we don’t.”
2000 You must have only one child
2015 You may have two
2016 You should have two
2020(?) You must have two children https://t.co/siGVnrO87d
— Carl Minzner (@CarlMinzner) September 22, 2016