China announced yesterday it was making exceptions to its one-child policy for some families affected by the devastating earthquake two weeks ago.
The Chengdu Population and Family Planning Committee in the capital of hard-hit Sichuan Province announced that families whose child was killed, severely injured or disabled in the quake could get a certificate allowing them to have another child.
The May 12 quake was particularly painful to many Chinese because it killed so many only children.
The death toll from the quake has reached more than 62,000 people so far, with more than 23,000 missing. Officials have not been able to estimate the number of children killed.
China’s one-child policy was launched in the late 1970s to control China’s exploding population and ensure better education and health care. The law limits couples to having one child but includes certain exceptions for ethnic groups, rural families and families where both parents were the only child in their families when they were growing up.
The government says the policy has prevented an additional 400 million births, but critics say it has also led to forced abortions, sterilizations and a dangerously imbalanced sex ratio as local authorities pursue sometimes severe birth quotas set by Beijing and families abort girls out of a preference for male heirs.
Yesterday’s announcement affects parents in the city of Chengdu, which has 10 million people, as well as two of the hardest-hit cities, Dujiangyan and Pengzhou.
The earthquake threw life in Sichuan into chaos and raised questions about what would happen to shattered families.
The emergency announcement was simply clarifying existing guidelines, said a family planning committee official surnamed Wang.
“There are just a lot of cases now, so we need to clarify our policies,” he said.
The committee plans to help about 1,200 of the worst-hit families, but that number could change, Wang said.
The announcement offers a glimpse into the strict workings of China’s one-child system.
It addresses the common problem of couples illegally having more than one child. If a child born illegally was killed in the quake, the parents will no longer have to pay fines for that child — but the previously paid fines won’t be refunded, the committee said.
If a couple’s legally born child was killed and the couple is left with an illegally born child under the age of 18, that child can be registered as the legal child — an important move that gives the child previously denied rights including nine years of free compulsory education.
The earthquake, and its destruction of almost 7,000 classrooms during a school day, left China heartbroken, with photos focusing on piles of dusty bookbags and small hands emerging from the debris.
Many Chinese have shown interest in adopting earthquake orphans, and yesterday’s announcement says there are no limits on the number of earthquake orphans a family can adopt. A couple that adopts won’t be penalized if they later have their own biological child.
Officials estimated last week that the quake left about 4,000 orphans, but they have said they will make every effort to place children with other family members.
Choosing a full-fledged confrontation with the US due to the loss of a megacontract for submarines for Australia, France is making a risky bet and other nations are not rushing to its defense. After Australia renounced its deal for conventional submarines in favor of US nuclear-powered ones, France took the extraordinary step of pulling its ambassadors from Washington and Canberra for consultations. Bertrand Badie, an international relations professor at the Sciences Po institute in Paris, said France had put itself in a position where it can only appear to be backing down or losing face once its ambassador returns to the US,
Could delivering COVID-19 immunity directly to the nose — the area of the body via which it is mostly transmitted — help conquer the pandemic? The WHO says clinical trials are under way to evaluate eight nasal spray vaccines that target COVID-19. The most advanced effort so far by China’s Xiamen University, the University of Hong Kong and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy has completed phase 2 trials. “When the virus infects someone, it usually gets in through the nose,” said researcher Nathalie Mielcarek, who is working with the Lille Pasteur Institute to develop a nasal spray vaccine against whooping cough. “The
FREE-FOR-ALL CONTEST: Taro Kono’s popular support means that he ‘probably has the edge, but if he has a lead, it’s a very vulnerable one,’ an Asia expert said The campaign to become Japan’s next prime minister began yesterday, with four candidates vying for leadership of the ruling party in an unusually close race. In televised speeches, the candidates set out their priorities, from boosting Japan’s digital prowess to addressing the falling birthrate. Among them are two women hoping to lead a nation that has never had a female prime minister, although both are considered long shots. The race follows Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s shock announcement that he would not run for head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Whoever the party picks in a Sept. 29 vote is to contest
PLANNING TO REOPEN: Amid 1,607 new COVID-19 cases, the country is making a shift away from lockdowns, acknowledging that outbreaks will happen Australia reported 1,607 new coronavirus cases yesterday as states and territories gradually shift from trying to eliminate outbreaks to living with the virus. Victoria, home to about a quarter of Australia’s 25 million people, recorded 507 cases as Premier Daniel Andrews said a weeks-long lockdown will end once 70 percent of those 16 and older are fully vaccinated, whether or not there are new cases. Andrews said the state might reach that vaccination threshold around Oct. 26. About 43 percent of Victorians have been fully vaccinated, 46 percent nationwide. “We will do so cautiously, but make no mistake, we are opening this place