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The Evolution of the One-child Policy in Shaanxi, 1979–88


A crucial element in China's modernization effort is the control of population growth. Months before the historic Third Plenum of the 11th Communist Party Congress in December 1978, the leadership decided that only a drastic limitation of fertility would ensure achievement of its economic goals for the year 2000. The policy to encourage all couples to limit themselves to one child was announced in January 1979. In September 1980 the Party Central Committee took the unusual step of publishing an “Open Letter” announcing a drastic programme of 20 to 30 years’ duration to restrict population growth, and calling on all Party and Youth League members to take the lead in having only one child. Thus was launched the world's most ambitious family-planning programme.

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