China eases one-child policy for first time in decades
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.
Assad alliance. As world leaders push for a second, much-delayed round of peace talks in Geneva, analysts expect the discussion to favor Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remaining in power.
Forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad demonstrate combat movement during a graduation ceremony for a new batch of special forces at an unknown location, in this handout picture provided by Syria’s national news agency SANA, November 11, 2013. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters
According to a member of the Syrian opposition, Western leaders are shifting “from an Arab Spring narrative to a counter-terrorism narrative,” adding that the West sees Syria as “a source of terrorist recruits that will come back to Europe and America.” Russia fears that local militants fighting in Syria will bring the violence home, and countries bordering Syria are concerned over spillover from the conflict.
Typhoon toll rises. Typhoon Haiyan has killed more than 4,000 people in the Philippines according to the country’s official toll, which was revised upward by roughly 2,000 since last reported on Thursday.
A displaced man scavenges through debris, in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan, for useful item in Tacloban, November 15, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Hundreds of international aid workers set up makeshift hospitals and began delivering supplies to survivors, but shortages remain. Philippines President Benigno Aquino’s is under fire for mishandling the disaster. Analysts predict that the massive devastation will harm his political chances in the future, and prevent him from completing planned economic reforms. Click through for updates and information on how to help.
Nota Bene: Venezuelan women seek surgery to remove liquid silicone, motor oil, and other substances they had injected in pursuit of beauty.
Deactivating giving – Reuters columnist Ian Bremmer explains why China’s Philippines aid is so paltry. (Reuters)
Food revolution – Grasshopper taco, lab-grown burger, and Plumpy’Nut could change the world. (Time)
Tech takeoff – Europe eases laws regulating gadget use during flights. (BBC)
Dial H2O – In a small town in England, an aquarium masquerades as a phone booth. (The Atlantic Cities)
Bribe ballet – A U.S. dancer quits Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet over alleged bribery. (New York Times)
From the File:
- Bill Gates implores Norway to spend more of its $800 billion oil fund in Africa and Asia.
- Italy’s Berlusconi struggles to keep party united.
- Twelve migrants drown off Greek coast after boat capsizes.
- Libyan television reports six deaths in Tripoli clashes.
- EU says Spanish controls at Gibraltar border do not break law.