Softer messages

Old posters to be taken down

Softer messages

Kill all your family if you don’t follow the rule” or “If one person has an excess birth the whole village will undergo tubal ligation [i.e. sterilisation]”.

More than 30 years after the one-child policy was first introduced, these early violent slogans can still be found daubed on walls across rural China.

Now in a bid to reduce the number of people choosing to violate the policy, China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission has launched a campaign to have these outdated pieces of propaganda removed.

“These cold and intimidating slogans spark resentment and antagonism and have triggered a large number of conflicts,” Zhang Jian, the head of the commission’s propaganda department, told the People’s Daily.

He added that the commission plans to replace the old slogans with “warmer” more “people friendly” ones that stress the benefits of having smaller families and raising daughters.

One of the unintended consequences of the one-child policy is a shortage of women because many families choose to have a boy if they can only have one baby.

Though the one child limit only applies to around 40% of the population, many more people are limited to only having two children.

Increasingly people are unhappy at these limits and finding ways, such as going abroad to give birth (see WiC 136), to get around them.

And even people who can’t afford to go abroad are getting round the law by paying a fine after the baby is born or giving birth anonymously away from home (also see the NPC proposal in Talking Point).

But reaction to the “face washing” campaign, as the commission has dubbed it, has been negative.

Many netizens asked why bother removing the slogans if, at their core, family planning policies are to remain the same.

Others said they should stay as testament to the brutal methods that have been used to control the population during the last 30 years.

“This is history. This is evidence of the tears and blood of Chinese people. Face washing is not important. What’s important is what the family planning commission will do from now on,” netizen Xiaomuyuerdiary wrote on her weibo account.

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