Chinese Dissident Optimistic China May End One-Child Policy

FILE - Chai Ling, a former student leader during the Tiananmen Square protests, speaks as U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) stands behind her during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 18, 2011.

A leading Chinese dissident has told a U.S. congressional hearing that she is optimistic China may abolish its one-child policy.

Speaking before the Congressional Executive Commission on China last week, Chai Ling, a former student leader of the Tiananmen Square movement and founder of the group All Girls Allowed, said Beijing has been sending out signals that the one-child policy is under discussion.

"Recently China's official Xinhua News Agency revealed that from May, all couples will be allowed to have two children, then family planning officials clarified that it's not true, the matter is still under discussion," she said. "But it showed within the government they are talking about it. So we are very optimistic China is going to abolish the one-child policy."

Beijing has been enforcing its one-child policy since the 1980s, but recently made some adjustments, including allowing couples who are from one-child families to have two children.

But Reggie Littlejohn, chairman of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, who also spoke at the congressional hearing, said critics of the one-child policy should not read too much into recent moves.

"China periodically tweaks its One-Child Policy. These minor modifications are routinely exaggerated. For example, under the misleading headline, "China to Ease One-Child Policy," Xinhua News Agency reported that China would lift the ban on a second child, if either parent is an only child, beginning on January 1, 2014," she said.

Congressman Chris Smith, who chairs the congressional commission, told VOA he is worried China will continue the policy. "It's a means of repression, they have employed it with terrible consequences, the missing daughters, anywhere from 40 to 100 million missing girls in terms of the skewed population, the consequences have been horrific," he said.

China officially has not commented on the U.S. hearing or the future of its one-child policy.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Mandarin service.