Chinese children. Photo credit: Tom Wang via wwwshutterstockcom CNA 10 28 15
Beijing, China, Mar 5, 2017 CNA.- For some 35 years, the population of China was strictly controlled by the Communist government’s one-child policy.
Parents were only allowed one child, and additional pregnancies meant forced abortions or hefty fines and penalties, such as the loss of a job. These additional children could be denied family household registration, which is the equivalent of denying them citizenship and basic services such as public transportation and education.
There have been recent relaxations of the one-child policy. Alarmed by an aging population, shrinking workforce and potentially stagnating economy, government officials announced in 2013 that couples could apply to have a second child if either partner was an only child themselves. In 2015, the rule relaxed even further, changing from a one-child policy to a two-child policy for everyone.
But what about the estimated 13 million unregistered second and third children, stuck in the cracks of a government policy that refused to recognize their existence?
A short documentary entitled “Invisible lives: The legacy of China’s family planning rules” from the Thomas Reuters Foundation explores the lives of these people.
“I don’t think the Chinese government has realized the human rights catastrophe caused by the family planning rules,” said Yang Zhizhu, an associate professor of civil law in Beijing.