The Guardian newspaper is reporting that the Chinese Government is trying to “soften” its public message about its one-child policy. You know the one, that’s helping to cause a huge shortage of female children, involves forced abortion and is not averse to killing the mother in the process.  Unfortunately, the slogans used by the Government to promote this policy often conveyed “coldness, constraint and even threats. They easily caused resentment in people and led to social tension” according to the People’s Daily newspaper. (So they were entirely accurate and appropriate for the policy then?) One typical example of these older public slogans is:

“If sterilisation or abortion demands are rejected, houses will be toppled, cows confiscated”

Instead of threatened demolition of houses and forced confiscation of property, the newer slogans tend to promote the benefits of having fewer children and advocate for gender equality:

“Lower fertility, better quality; boys and girls are all treasures”

“Mistreatment and abandonment of baby girls is strictly prohibited”

According to the People’s Daily, the aim is to “make family planning work keep pace with the times and go deep among the masses”. 

It seems that the Chinese Government has decided that an iron fist is more easily accepted if it is clothed in a velvet glove.  I’m sure that the next woman who dies on the operating after a forced abortion, or the next family which is denied the chance to have a family of more than one child, will be comforted that the Government thinks that “boys and girls are all treasures” – just not the one who comes second into the womb.

Marcus Roberts was two years out of law school when he decided that practising law was no longer for him. He therefore went back to university and did his LLM while tutoring. He now teaches contract and...