China is considering a further relaxation on its "one-child" policy. That shift — which would allow all Chinese couples to have a second child — could come as early as the end of the year, China Business News reported on Wednesday morning.
If the current evaluation of the proposal comes back with a positive recommendation, the two-child policy would be the second time China will have adjusted its long-standing — and controversial — family-planning policy in the last two years.
At the end of 2013, China allowed second children to be born into families in which one parent is an only child. However, only slightly more than a million families applied to have second children in 2014, the first year the eased policy was executed. Nevertheless, the country's Health and Family Planning Commission maintained that the number went along with their expectation.
What the policy planners might not have expected is that the people aren't exactly thrilled by the government's openness to change.
Heavy censorship on Sina Weibo often works to keep the majority of Chinese citizens from knowing something they "shouldn't know." But the report on the new policy opened up an online discussion over the issue with thousands of comments.
Thousands of people have commented on Sina Weibo's poll that asked, "If everybody can have a second child, will you do so?"
More than 60,000 people have voted: About 53% of people appreciate the idea of having second children, and 47% say they wouldn't have a second child. It's not a scientific reflection of all of China, but that's not a huge desire for more kids.
To show how ambivalent Weibo users are, here's a selection of top comments. One thing a lot of them share: concerns about how hard it would be economically to have a second child.
This has nothing to do with opening up to all couples or not. Those who can't afford having second children definitely won't have second children, while those who can afford will go and have second children anyway, no matter what the policy is.
The moment when (people) cannot afford second children is the perfect moment to relax and allow for second children.
Or even one child, for that matter...
I'm not going to have a second child. My own life is already miserable, commodity prices are high, education is hard to afford, housing is expensive, so is medical treatment, but the income is so little and I'm so tired after working every day like a slumdog. I don't want to bring children to the world to suffer the pain!
Second children? Are you kidding me? Why bother having children in such society? The child will group up eating poisoned formula and sewage oil, and breathing polluted air. Those are [potential] human beings, don't treat them just like numbers of potential laborers.
Some see the need for more government action to make it easier for those people who do have second children.
[We] need good [side] policies [to go along with this one], such as free diapers and formulas, tuition fee waiver, free medical care, etc.
And for some the issue is more one of romance than of public policy.
Find me a boyfriend first, [then] I will answer this question.
I have to have a wife first, wtf, such a heavy topic 😭😭😭.
The 36-year-old one-child policy has many side effects, including promoting a gender imbalance so severe that experts concluded that millions of Chinese men will never be able to get married due to favoring of boys over girls.
The government has never considered what it means for women to have second children. Chinese women have few protections in their marriages and in their jobs, and you would allow them to have second children without any supporting system. How many women would have to give birth to second children under the pressure of their husbands' families? Then it would be hard to get a promotion at work, they might face the risk of losing their job. The future family resources might benefit boys more and girls lose their privileges as in single-child families. As a woman I don't think this is a good news.
There are some supporters of the original one-child policy and the potential changes ahead.
But the overall attitude can best be summed up as "Meh."
The low-income families and the rich families will be affected the most. For the majority of the people in-between, the influence [of this policy change] is ignorable.
Or outright hostility toward the idea of the government mandating how many children a family can have.
Give back our fundamental rights! To give birth or not, do we need you to 'plan' for us?
Beimeng Fu is a BuzzFeed News World Reporter covering China and is based in New York.