The one-child policy is the population control policy of the People's Republic of China. It restricts urban couples to only one child, while allowing additional children in several cases, including twins, rural couples, ethnic minorities, and couples who are both only children themselves. In 2007, according to a spokesman of the Committee on the One-Child Policy, approximately 35.9% of China's population was subject to a one-child restriction. The Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau are exempt from the policy. Also exempt from this law are foreigners living in China.
This policy was introduced in 1978 and initially applied from 1979. It was created by the Chinese government to alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems in China, and authorities claim that the policy has prevented more than 250 million births between 1980 and 2000, and 400 million births from about 1979 to 2011; this claim is disputed by two independent scholars, who put the number of prevented births from 1979 to 2009 at 100 million/. The policy is controversial both within and outside China because of the manner in which the policy has been implemented, and because of concerns about negative social consequences. The policy has been implicated in an increase in forced abortions, female infanticide, and underreporting of female births, and has been suggested as a possible cause behind China's sex imbalance. Nonetheless, a 2008 survey undertaken by the Pew Research Center reported that 76% of the Chinese population supports the policy.
The policy is enforced at the provincial level through fines that are imposed based on the income of the family and other factors. Population and Family Planning Commissions exist at every level of government to raise awareness about the issue and carry out registration and inspection work. Despite this policy, there are still many citizens that continue to have more than one child.
In 2008, China's National Population and Family Planning Commission said that the policy will remain in place for at least another decade. The deputy director of the Commission stated that the policy would remain unaltered until at least 2015. However, widespread criticism from officials and well-placed commentators suggests that the policy will be substantially relaxed under the new government of Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang. In 2010, it was announced that the majority of the citizens initially subject to the policy are no longer of reproductive age and it has been speculated that many citizens simply disregard or violate the policy in more recent years. Among several small relaxations and hints of change, in March 2011, the government said it would consider allowing couples to have a second child.
The limit has been strongly enforced in urban areas, but the actual implementation varies from location to location. In most rural areas, families are allowed to apply to have a second child if their first-born is a daughter or suffers from physical disability, mental illness or mental retardation. Second children are subject to birth spacing (usually 3 or 4 years). Additional children will result in large fines. Families violating the policy are required to pay monetary penalties and may possibly be denied bonuses at their workplace. Children born in overseas countries are not counted under the policy if they do not obtain Chinese citizenship. Chinese citizens returning from abroad are allowed to have a second child.[
As of 2007, 35.9% of the population were subject to a strict one-child limit. 52.9% were permitted to have a second child if their first was a daughter; 9.6% of Chinese couples were permitted two children regardless of their genders; and 1.6%—mainly Tibetans—had no limit at all.[ Effects on population growth and