The Communist Party Central Committee and State Council issued a joint decision on January 22 reaffirming the importance of China's birth control policies, calling on officials to improve their effectiveness, warning that the imbalanced male-female sex ratio could lead to social instability.
The joint decision states "if the sex imbalance between males and females is too high, and continues for too long, it will certainly lead to social instability." China had 118 boys born in 2005 for every 100 girls, compared with 110 boys born for every 100 girls in 2000, according to a January 22 Xinhua article. In some areas, the ratio has reached 130 boys born for every 100 girls. Average ratios in other countries, both developed and developing, are approximately 105 boys born for every 100 girls.
The decision reaffirms central authorities intent to continue China's birth control policies, with the aim of keeping China's population under 1.36 million by 2010, and under 1.45 million by 2020. But Zhang Weiqing, director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC), suggested some government flexibility in the policy, stating that "with very poor families, we may reduce part of the social compensation fee [the fine for bearing children over the official limit] or waive the fee, depending on the actual situation" according to a subsequent interview quoted in a January 24 Washington Post article.
The decision calls for local authorities to implement a range of social assistance policies aimed at resolving some of the social pressures that lead to sex-selective abortion. Policies cited in the decision include financial assistance programs for families who abide by the birth control policies, such as aid to families who have a single child who is injured or killed, or one-time cash payments to elderly parents with one child. The decision also calls for the strict punishment of those who conduct gender determinations of fetuses or carry out sex-selective abortions.
Zhang estimated that China would require 10 to 15 years to return the sex ratio to normal, according to a January 23 interview transcript posted on the Chinese government's website. Zhao Baige, deputy director of the NPFPC, said that the joint decision represents a shift away from a simple focus on controlling the numerical population growth through administrative controls, to a more comprehensive focus on a broader range of demographic issues, according to a January 23 Beijing News article.
The decision also emphasizes the need to both enhance controls over China's migrants in order to assure that they comply with China's birth control policies, and to respond to migrant needs for social services. This parallels statements made earlier in January by other central Chinese authorities regarding the importance for stronger management of China's migrant population.
The decision also emphasizes reliance on more traditional Chinese governance techniques in addressing population growth. It calls on local officials to "perfect management of [birth control] target responsibility systems, evaluating the work performance of Party and government leaders, responsibile bureaus, population and family planning bureaus, employing a "unilateral veto" system." Chinese authorities use set performance targets, such as birth control quotas, to assess the work performance of individual officials. Failure to meet the designated targets can result in negative career sanctions, while success is rewarded.