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Millennium Post

A new dawn for reformist China

Not a baby boom for sure, but China’s recent decision to relax its notorious ‘one-child policy’ is a step in the right direction. Along with abolishing the dreaded labour education camps, which were the instrument of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, that consolidated the one party rule in the communist country, the one-child policy had been a trademark intrusion of the state into the individual life. However, the 60-point reform plan initiated by the Xi Jinping government last Friday bodes well for the future of not just the exponentially developing nation-state as a whole, but for its lowest common denominators, the man and women of the land. For over sixty years, China had been a model of investment-led state-controlled economy, but with the changing times, the world’s second biggest superpower is transforming itself into a consumption-driven, globalising nation, in step with the current beats. Naturally, the benefits of the thawing of the top brass in terms of diluting their ideological stance to accommodate modern neoliberal market values and grow economically has percolated to bear good news for the private citizens of the country. In this context, the controversial one-child policy that was introduced in 1979 to control birth rates in a country with the world’s largest population, had backfired in the long run, insofar as it also contributed to falling birth rates that created a smaller work force saddled with an ageing population after one generation.

In a way, relaxing the one-child norm is symbolic of the paradigm shift that’s taken hold in China’s top leadership, that refuses to see itself as an isolated and eccentric entity with superpower ambitions but a global player that is adapting itself in league with the times. Since the 60-point reform also includes changes in the welfare system, with relaxation of hitherto mandatory rules such as household registration, under which migrants desiring to move to urban centres must give up public benefits, a norm that’s still applicable to nodal cities like Beijing or Shanghai, is a good development. So while this will facilitate greater urban migration, thus easing the tight labour situation in the cities, the corresponding move to reform land laws and grant greater rights to farmers would empower those interested in furthering the cause of the agricultural sector. Farmers will now be allowed to possess, use, benefit from and transfer their contracted land, a big change from the tight leash within which land laws were implemented until now.
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