Demographic experts have been warning for decades that Communist China’s mass extermination of pre-born babies under the One Child Policy, which lasted from 1979 to 2015, would result in major population troubles down the road. The brutalities of that policy are well-documented: a gendercide in which millions of baby girls were aborted or killed by infanticide; women being kidnapped and restrained as their children were torn from their bodies; the trafficking of “illicit” children; and a staggering, unfathomable 336 million abortions (which may be a low estimate). Officials boasted that at least 400 million births were prevented.
As one rare honest propaganda slogan bluntly put it: “Better to shed a river of blood than to birth more than one child.”
After decades of carnage, Beijing is now changing its tune. The One Child Policy was ended in 2015 and swapped in 2016 with a two-child policy—in 2021, the increasing unease of officials at the demographic forecast was made apparent when a three-child policy was implemented instead. The same year, Chinese Communist Party officials began pivoting to a different program—this time, promoting childbirth after years of forbidding it. According to the Council for Foreign Relations, officials have “since followed suit with implementation measures, such as the pilot projects aimed at building a ‘marriage and childbearing culture for a new era’ launched in dozens of Chinese cities since spring 2023 by the China Family Planning Association.”
The CFR cites the 2021 “Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Optimizing Fertility Policy and Promoting Balanced Long-term Population Development,” in which new propaganda objectives are laid out, including:
- Promoting the traditional virtues of the Chinese nation
- Respecting the social value of childbearing
- Advocating marriage and childbearing at the appropriate age, bearing and educating better children
- Encouraging couples to share childcare responsibilities
- Eliminating outdated concepts such as high bridal/dowry prices
- Building a new type of marriage and childbearing culture
In short, after the state-mandated killing of hundreds of millions of children accompanied by millions of forced sterilizations and an aggressive push to eliminate the extended family and condition the population to see small families as normative, Beijing now wants to pursue a pro-natalist policy. This includes efforts to reduce the costs of having children to encourage young couples, propaganda projects supporting the formation of families as “not only family issues tied to personal happiness but major issues affecting national survival and development,” and encouraging people to marry younger.
In what must be a surreal experience for many Chinese, the very same officials once tasked with carefully policing their pregnancies, forcibly aborting children that followed the first, and mandating compulsory sterilization for the unfortunately fertile, are now “calling newlyweds to inquire and prod them about their plans to have children.” One government official apparently noted that it is a government priority for “newlyweds to be pregnant within a year and their target it to make a phone call every quarter.” Additionally, “at least one Chinese county has offered cash rewards for all marriages in which the bride is 25 or younger, as a means of encouraging ‘age-appropriate marriage and childbirth.’” One young woman, in fact, reported that after she got married in August 2021, she received two calls over the following year, asking her if she was taking folic acid, if she was planning to have children, and finally, asked outright: “You are married, why are you still not preparing for pregnancy? Take the time to have a baby.”
The reality is that Chinese authorities are getting very worried. In October 2022, President Xi Jinping announced to the Communist Party’s 20th Congress that policy to boost birthrates was necessary and that a full-scale population development strategy would be put in place. The Chinese population is beginning to shrink, with 10.6 million children being born in 2021, and less than 10 million in 2022 with an 11.5% drop in 2020. China’s population will soon start aging without enough young people to care for all of the elderly, and the Communist Party is now faced with the herculean task of attempting to reverse what they orchestrated through a river of blood, in desperate need for what they once so cruelly threw away: Babies.