China announces major reforms, Syria peace talks may favor Assad’s rule, and Philippines death toll rises as Aquino fights for his reputation. Today is Friday, November 15, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.
China’s President Xi Jinping stands next to a Chinese national flag during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, November 13, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Sibling solution. Chinese officials plan to alter the one-child law for the first time in nearly 30 years. The revision could be a step towards abolishing the policy altogether, though its demographic effect may be relatively small:
Wang Guangzhou, a demographer from top government think-tank, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, estimated the new policy would affect 30 million women of child-bearing age In a country which has nearly 1.4 billion people. Although it is known internationally as the one-child policy, China’s rules governing family planning are more complicated. Under current rules, urban couples are permitted a second child if both parents do not have siblings and rural couples are allowed to have two children if their first-born is a girl.
In addition to skewing the gender ratio in favor of male children, the restrictive policy hurts the economy by decreasing the Chinese labor pool. Studies show that, under the current one-child system, the country’s labor force will begin to decline at a rate of roughly 10 million per year in 2025, while the elderly population will continue to grow. In July, China passed a law forcing children to visit their elderly parents, in a possible bid to ease the state’s responsibility for elderly care. Economic reforms include allowing the market to set fuel, electricity, and other prices, calming initial fears that President Xi Jinping would fail to limit the power of state-owned firms. The document also reiterated Xi’s commitment to closing China’s controversial labor camps, a move sources previously said was met with resistance by Xi’s colleagues.