Guangdong’s New “Two-Child Policy” Off to a Rocky Start

Charles Liu , March 30, 2015 9:16am (updated)

Everything sounds great on paper. In theory, ideas are as perfect as the solid intentions behind them. However, the recent reform of the one-child policy on December 28 last year to allow families in which one parent is a single child to have two children has led to outright confusion and anger.

Some applicants are finding it difficult to prove that they are the single child of a family in a process said to often reject submitted documents. In other cases, applicants complain that different government bureaucracies require different certificates, leading to frayed nerves. One of the biggest problems is that the new policy was introduced on a national level three months before Guangdong province passed the new law. So which one applies?

Expectant parents are left with a myriad of questions, including:

There has been a lapse of time between the implementation of the new childbirth policy on a national scale and here in Guangdong province. If I have a child within this period of time, will I be fined?

Applicants to raise a second child require parents to provide a certificate of being a single child, but is there a specific format for these requirements?

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed this resolution at the end of December of last year, while the law came into practice in Guangdong at the end of March of this year. If I have a [second] child in the time from January to March, will I be fined?

It seems like parents are keen to cash in on this “promotion”. The news headline on the first baby born in Guangdong under the new policy on March 28 simply said, “A Discount of RMB 300K”. (link broken, cache here)

The excitement behind the change is why it’s great to have experts on hand to help explain things to the layperson. There is also particular confusion in Guangdong because we’re three months behind the rest of the country in passing the law. Under the title “Problems Leave Many with a Headache”, this article tries to solve the mystery by interviewing two experts, which seems to be one too many.

Li Ruzhang, Department head of the provincial division of the standing committee for administrative law of the national People’s Congress, says:

According to my understanding of the law, any briths to have occurred after the passing of the resolution of the Standing Committee should be considered legal. Although the passing of this law in Guangdong was late by three months, but the resolution of the National People’s Congress affects every citizen throughout the entire country.

Zheng Zizhen disagrees. The sociologist and former director for the demographic research institute of the Academy of Social Sciences says that each case must be evaluated separately:

In the eyes of the law, it makes sense to consider that a national policy would go into effect around the country as a whole; however, we should still try to specifically try to determine when is the proper transition period…(Even if the cut-off time was Dec 28 of last year,) what if someone was off by this date by three days? Then what do you do? How do you deal with this situation? That’s why I think it’s best to act in accordance with the law.

As with all bureaucracies, these two people are completely correct.

This new policy is expected to bring an additional 1.5 to 2 million births to Guangdong province, and is already starting speculation as to how this new demographic will affect the economy and which specific industry.

Despite waiving the penalty for extra births outside the traditional one-child policy, 60% of Guangdong respondents to an online poll state that they would not choose to have a second child due to its high cost.

Photo: Yesky

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor