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China Today Updates

November 2020 Updates

 

CHINA TODAY UPDATE

November 2020    

 

2 Updates

 

1. The importance of respecting the rights of the weakest

2. China finally waves goodbye to family planning as country gets old, but is the damage already done?

 

 

1.

    The importance of respecting the rights of the weakest

 

                                20th November 2020

 

Agenzia Fides - www.fides.org

 

ASIA - The importance of respecting the rights of the weakest within the framework of the trade agreement in East Asia, a driving force for development

 

Hanoi (Agenzia Fides) - The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the newborn economic cooperation agreement between 15 Asian nations representing globally about a third of the GDP and the world population raises hopes and concerns among civil society in the various countries of Asia. In the intentions of its creators, the pact will become a driving force for development in East Asia. But the official birth of the agreement - with the signing during a virtual conference on November 15 in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi - has also aroused concern, especially among civil society organizations because of the effects the agreement could have on the most fragile and weakest segments of the population such as farmers or craftsmen.

 

"The Covid crisis should be an opportunity to realize how important farmers, fishermen and other food producers are", commented the Indonesian NGO "Solidaritas Perempuan". Asian human rights monitoring networks and platforms such as "Focus on Global South" highlight dangers for people working in the informal sector, small manufacturing businesses and for farmers: all people who live on minimal profit margins with mediators who then export the goods. Drastically reducing tariffs on agricultural products, for example, could have tragic consequences for small producers and for women who work for the subsistence of their families in the context of small-scale agriculture. The situation, the NGOs warn, is aggravated by the presence of Covid-19.

 

The Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (Apwld), based in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), referring to Rcep said. "In Asia, the pandemic has taken so many lives, destroyed economies, swept away millions of jobs and livelihoods in ways never seen before. Right now, any economic, fiscal and political decision must reflect the needs and priorities of the peoples".

 

From Manila, the NGO "Trade Justice Pilipinas" has also joined the chorus: "In the years in which we have followed the negotiations, we have constantly expressed our concerns about the negative implications of Rcep on the Philippine economy". The concerns are shared by trade unions in Indonesia, South Korea, Australia, Malaysia and Cambodia which, as stated by the trade union platform "Public Service International" have expressed their reservations about the effects of the agreement on jobs.

 

The Rcep negotiation marathon began 8 years ago with a negotiation started in 2011 in Bali during an ASEAN summit. Last year India, initially involved, withdrew, thus delaying the official inauguration of the agreement for a year. Rcep includes all ten ASEAN countries (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations which includes: Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia) and five countries of Oceania and East Asia: China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

 

The agreement intends to gradually reduce custom tariffs on many goods and services, integrating the commitments already established with the World Trade Organization, by taking into account sectors such as e-commerce or intellectual property rights. Even if it will not be easy to align very different economic situations, the 15 signatory states which launched the Rcep have provided for safeguard clauses aimed at protecting specific products or countries. Rcep was also born as a multilateral cooperation structure in the search for mutual economic advantage. (MG-PA) (Agenzia Fides)

___________________________________________________________

2.

China finally waves goodbye to family planning as country gets old, but is the damage already done?

 

 

                                9th November 2020

 

South China Morning Post

OPINION

 

China finally waves goodbye to family planning as country gets old, but is the damage already done?

 

* China’s ‘Jihua Shengyu’, or family planning, policy was not included in the latest national plan released by the ruling Communist Party

* China’s one-child policy, which became a two child policy in 2016, was in place for four decades until the social and economic costs became just too obvious to ignore

 

By: Zhou Xin

 

The era of family planning through birth restrictions is ending in China. This was made clear by the fact that the four character Chinese phrase, Jihua Shengyu, was not included in the latest 20,000 character national plan released by the ruling Communist Party.

 

I was born in 1979 and so was part of China’s first “only child” generation as Beijing rolled out its one-child policy across the country.

 

Jihua Shengyu meant that many of my classmates from primary school to university had older sisters and brothers, but few had younger siblings. It also meant my mother repeatedly telling me what a pity it was that she could not have a daughter. It meant that for my generation and the ones that followed, the default family size was three – a couple and one child. While it is a universal law to see family size shrinking and population ageing as a result of economic growth, China’s family planning policy has greatly accelerated the process.

 

After four decades of ruthless implementation, the family planning policy has left a collective mark on the Chinese people, profoundly changing their views of family.

 

There are many horrible stories related to Jihua Shengyu, including forced abortions, mandatory sterilisation, infanticide and hefty fines. For most Chinese families, the cost was just too high to challenge it. People just got used to it. As a result, the one-child policy, which became a two child policy in 2016, was in place for four decades until the social and economic costs became just too obvious to ignore.

 

Some Chinese officials had trumpeted the value of family planning in helping China’s economic miracle. It may be true that there were “demographic dividends” as young couples saved more, spent more and allocated more time to work – especially for young women – but the short-term gains came with long-term consequences that have just started to emerge.

 

The number of people over 65 will rise above 300 million in 2035, creating a huge challenge for China’s already underfunded state pension and health care systems. The country’s labour force will keep shrinking and consumer demand is likely to decline, as well, as older people generally consume less.

 

The problem of “shrinking cities” in many places is already obvious, especially in the northeast, as young and ambitious Chinese people increasingly seek opportunity in big cities and regional economic hubs.

 

In hindsight, Jihua Shengyu probably did more harm than good. Although it is a bit late, it is still good to wave a goodbye to the policy.

 

* This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Family planning backfires in ageing China

 

End                        

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