China's New Two-Child Policy Leading to More Sex-Selective Abortions?

This is a disturbing trend. According to several articles in the Shenzhen Daily, sex-selective abortions seem to be on the rise even as China’s new “two-child policy” rolls out across the country.

Last October, the 18th National Congress of China (the CPC) announced that in families where one parent was a single child, the family would be allowed to apply to have a second child. The plan was sketchy, with no clear indication when or how the new policy would be implemented, but more and more cities (including Shenzhen) have since approved the plan and have been accepting and approving applications for second children (I’m ignoring the fact that people having to “apply for permission” to have a second child is still batshit crazy because everyone knows that I am 100% against any state mandated child planning policies anyway, so that isn’t the point of this post).

People might think that this would be a boon for women in China. People were speculating that this would help reduce families’ archaic desire to kill off their unborn daughters in favor of sons and help bring the country’s gross gender imbalance under some control. If families can have two children, then they will be more likely to keep their first daughter because they can always try for a son later. Or, if they already have a son, they might decide to keep their second baby no matter what sex it is.

Alas, this is not what appears to be happening. Many parents who didn’t kill their daughters in their first go-round are not about to waste the opportunity of a second child on a worthless girl again. One mother said “I had no choice when I was not permitted to have a second child, but now that the policy is relaxed I feel my life may be made complete if I have both a daughter and a son.” 

In mainland China, it is illegal to determine the sex of a baby before birth, even if you are just curious and aren’t planning a sex-selective abortion. In Hong Kong, though, it is legal to know the sex of a baby before birth, so some pregnant women are going to Hong Kong for ultrasounds or blood tests or are using agents who will send blood samples to testing centers in Hong Kong. A woman surnamed Xie, who has been acting as one of these agents since before the relaxed policies started taking effect, said she has had an increase in business lately.  These sorts of agencies are illegal in China, but it hasn’t stopped countless women in China from paying up to 7,500RMB (US$1,250) to find out the sex of their babies.

The hope that loosening the one-child policy would help protect baby girls was a mere dream. However, even before the one-child policy was implemented, female infanticide was rampant in China. The Chinese people have also spent over 30 years being brainwashed into thinking that having one child is best for families and the nation. Even completely eliminating the one-child policy will not help raise the status and numbers of girls. A complete overhaul in Chinese people’s thinking with regards to the roles and values of women in society has to take place to see any significant increase in the number of Chinese women. As long as China continues to treat women as second-class citizens, boys will always be preferred. The gender imbalance in China is probably not something that will be fixed for many generations.