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HomeNewsChina wants families to have three children. But many women aren't convinced

China wants families to have three children. But many women aren’t convinced

There’s just one problem: Women aren’t too keen on the idea.

For more than 35 years, the ruling Communist Party has strictly enforced a one-child policy as the country struggles to tackle overpopulation and reduce poverty. But as the economy boomed, China saw its population age and its workforce shrink.

However, the public does not seem convinced. The official adoption of the country’s new three-child policy on Friday sparked widespread skepticism and criticism on Chinese social media, with many women expressing concern at the rising cost of living and inequality in genders rooted in the workplace.

Many have argued that raising three children would be prohibitive and out of reach for most urban couples, many of whom face stagnant wages, fewer job opportunities, and exhausting working hours.

“I don’t even want to have a child, let alone three,” said a comment on Weibo, China’s heavily censored Twitter-like platform, which has garnered more than 51,000 likes.

Although wealth inequality and overwork are problems seen around the world, in China they are exacerbated by entrenched gender roles that often place the bulk of household chores and childcare on women.

“Will the men have paternity leave for their three children, then?” one person posted conspicuously on Weibo, with over 67,000 likes. There is currently no national law providing for paternity leave in China.

This imbalance in parental responsibility means that it is difficult for women to reconcile work and motherhood. Since the three-child policy proposal was announced earlier this year, much of the debate has focused on fears that it may ultimately worsen conditions for working women.
In recent years, many Chinese women have reported experiencing discrimination in employment because of their marital or parental status, with employers often reluctant to pay for maternity leave. A Human Rights Watch report earlier this year, which drew on studies, social media reports, news coverage, court documents and interviews, noted that in some companies, women are invited to wait their turn to take maternity leave; if they get pregnant before “the hour”, they can be fired or punished.
Unsurprisingly, many career-conscious young women in China are increasingly disillusioned with traditions and institutions like marriage and childbirth.
“As a woman, I feel like I’m on a narrower and narrower path, and there is no turning back,” a women’s rights group posted on Weibo on Thursday. , in response to the new policy.
The Communist Party has recognized these problems and is committed to solving them. The new amendment promises to protect women’s right to employment and says the government will work with the private sector to set up child care centers in public spaces and workplaces, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

The government will also “deploy more support measures in terms of finance, taxation, insurance, education, housing and employment, to ease the burden on families,” Xinhua added.

The text of the amended family planning law is not yet publicly available. Reports from Xinhua and other state-owned media do not provide further details on how these protective measures will be implemented, such as whether tougher penalties will be imposed on employers who discriminate against mothers.

Although a number of cities and provinces are already providing some of the measures called for by activists – Shanghai offers 10 days of paternity leave, for example – they are still too limited and far from the national reform needed to increase the rate of childbirth. birth rate, say some experts.

In 2019, the national birth rate hit its lowest level in 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China; the following year, the number of newborns fell a further 18%.
This means that the country – the most populous in the world, with 1.4 billion people – has seen its fertility rate drop from more than five births per woman to less than two, in just 40 years. It’s one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, on par with Japan and South Korea, both of which also face looming demographic crises.
“If the country cannot protect women’s rights, but only encourage childbirth, no matter whether the maternity leave is 98 days or three years, it is tantamount to taking away their careers,” said Xu Chao, doctor from Shandong. .

For women in China, who have struggled for so long in the workplace and now lead relatively independent lives, having more children requires huge sacrifices – and it will take more than just a law review. to encourage a baby boom.

US vice president targets China

US Vice President Kamala Harris accused China of threatening “the sovereignty of nations” with its actions in the South China Sea in a speech Tuesday on the second full day of her visit to Southeast Asia.

“Beijing continues to coerce, intimidate and claim the vast majority of the South China Sea,” Harris said in the Singapore speech. “The United States stands with our allies and partners in the face of these threats.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea’s 1.3 million square miles as its sovereign territory. In recent years, Beijing has decided to militarize a number of man-made islands across the vast waterway in a bid to consolidate its claims, which overlap with several other nations, including the Philippines and Vietnam. The United States regularly contests these claims, conducting freedom of navigation operations in the region.

Harris is touring Singapore and Vietnam on a four-day trip, becoming the top U.S. official to visit Southeast Asia since President Joe Biden took office in January. The United States and China have both fought to influence the region and in his speech on Tuesday, Harris touted America’s commitment to Southeast Asia.

However, Harris’ trip was overshadowed by the chaotic U.S. government withdrawal from Afghanistan, and on Monday the U.S. vice president was forced to uphold Washington’s international reputation after being inundated with questions about the evacuations.

“The reason I’m here is because the United States is a world leader, and we take this role seriously, knowing that we have many interests and priorities around the world,” Harris said Monday.

–By Ben Westcott

Towards gold

Xuemei Zhang, representing China in women’s wheelchair basketball, takes on a member of the Algerian team on the opening day of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. The Games kicked off with an opening ceremony on Tuesday evening and will run through September 5 with more than 4,000 athletes expected.

Chinese tech firms donate to charity as Xi touts need for “common prosperity”

Big Chinese tech companies donate billions of dollars to social causes as the government pledges to protect people from exploitation by private companies.

E-commerce company Pinduoduo on Tuesday pledged to donate its last quarter profits – some $ 372 million – to developing China’s agricultural sector and rural areas. In total, he plans to donate 10 billion yuan ($ 1.5 billion) to such causes.

“This is an important and stimulating task, in which we will invest patiently,” said Chen Lei, chief executive officer of Pinduoduo, adding in a statement that he would personally oversee the project.

The move is important for the Nasdaq-listed company, which just made a profit for the first time as a state-owned company from April to June. It also follows a similar charitable pledge that internet company Tencent made last week, when it announced it would invest 50 billion yuan ($ 7.7 billion) to meet Beijing’s target of ” common prosperity “for all.

This phrase is historically significant in China and was used recently by President Xi Jinping as he pledged to redistribute wealth in the country. Xi’s edict has put even more pressure on the country’s wealthiest citizens and businesses, who face tighter control and regulations as Beijing reigns in power from the private sector.

Pinduoduo’s announcement also comes as the Chinese government continues to expand its investigation into the private sector, most recently into how businesses interact with local governments. The country’s leading anti-transplant watchdog announced this week that its division in Hangzhou – where tech giant Alibaba is based – would resolve issues involving business-government relations in the city.

–By Laura Il

Around asia

  • The departure of US Vice President Kamala Harris for Vietnam has been delayed by several hours due to a possible Havana Syndrome incident, which has sickened hundreds of US officials in recent years.
  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he will run for vice-president in next year’s election, a move criticized by opponents as a ploy to allow him to maintain his grip on power.
  • Taiwan has launched the deployment of Medigen, the Covid-19 vaccine developed on the island. It has yet to complete phase 3 clinical trials and no efficacy data is available.

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