Tiffanie Wen writes: According to the updated version of China’s new one-child policy, formalized by the country’s top legislative committee in the final days of 2013, couples in which one parent is an only child are now permitted to have a second child. Rural couples whose first child is a girl are also entitled to a second, presumably so they can try for a much-coveted boy, which is particularly important in areas where men are needed to do the heavy lifting.
It’s easy to conceptualize this second part of the policy as indicative of China’s famous patriarchal system and history of infanticide and abandonment in favor of baby boys, responsible for millions of “lost girls” and an unbalanced sex ratio that will leave an estimated 30 million adult Chinese men unmarried by 2020.
Thankfully, the story is not so simple. According to experts on Chinese society and family planning, the value of women in China has actually been increasing as a consequence—surprisingly enough—of the oppressive one-child policy introduced in 1978 and enacted in 1979.