Beijing — The Chinese Communist Party’s historic decision to ease its restrictions on the number of children all married couples are allowed to have, thereby turning its decades-old “one-child” policy into a “two-child” policy, was met with a cascade of discussion on Chinese social media Thursday evening.
Among the tens of thousands of comments, some people announced that they would start trying to conceive a second child that very night. Others said they would not have another for anything in the world — children were just too expensive.
“The full relaxation of the one-child policy” was the most discussed topic on Weibo within hours of state news media announcing the policy change, which came on Thursday evening after a four-day meeting of the party’s Central Committee in a hotel in Beijing.
On Weibo, a user who goes by the name “Li Wan Xiao Yu” and describes herself as a “happy full-time mother,” wrote: “Today is an important day. The fifth plenum of the 18th Central Committee announced everyone can have two children. I guess full enforcement will still take time but we see hope! Mothers who used to worry that they would be fined more than 200,000 RMB ($31,470) for having a second baby can rest assured and prepare for a second child!”
In a group called “Support for older mothers who want a second child” on WeChat, a messaging app popular in China, many women hailed the new rule.
“I feel the policy is great!” wrote “Mo’er,” one of many who previously had not qualified because neither she nor her partner were single children. Family-planning laws were eased in recent years to permit couples in which one partner was an only child to have a second.
“No more talking,” a 43-year-old mother of two who uses the name “Cat Mother Watermelon Mother” told group members on WeChat. “You all should start working hard to conceive starting from tonight. A month earlier could mean that the baby and the mother could be healthier.”
Others were more cautious. A Weibo user “Big Forehead Qianqian” wrote: “Speaking of a second child, though it sounds like a plan too far away for me, I don’t think I’ll have one. Many families now can’t even afford one kid. Won’t they be bogged down to death if they have two? It’s better to have one and give him/her the best education.”
Some people addressed the issue of the parents of single children killed by disease or accident who were too old to have another child. This particular group of parents have received increased sympathy in recent years as their plight began to surface in the media and attract attention.
Weibo user “Xiao Kan De” wrote: “The policy of allowing two children has come. People who managed to ‘catch the last train’ and have another child are happily celebrating. But what should those parents do who have lost their only child but are past childbearing age?”
Weibo user “Y is a Woman Like Wind” wrote: “How can parents born in the 1950s and ’60s, who followed the [one-child] policy but have lost their only child, bear this relaxation of the policy?”
Others pointed out that the state had not released its grip on how many children citizens should have, but merely increased the number by one.
Weibo user “Starry Night of Religion” commented: “You get to decide whether we should have one kid or two. Now the population is aging, the number of families that lost their only child is increasing, the labor force is declining … Why is there no one who comes forward and claims responsibility for these full-blown crises? Have we really been liberated? We’re committing suicide!”