‘Too much of a burden’: Chinese couples react to three-child policy

China has announced that couples will be permitted to have up to three children. What do couples think of the policy change?

A child opens an umbrella near an advertisement for a restaurant featuring young children in Beijing on Monday. Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP

‘Our parents lived for their children, we live for ourselves’

Jia Shicong is a 31-year-old education project manager. She is married to Hu Xuancheng, also 31, an engineer. They have a baby girl who is one year and seven months old. They live in Xi’an, in central China

Jia Shicong with her husband, Hu Xuancheng, and their daughter. Photograph: Handout

“When hearing the news today, my colleagues joked that unless the government rewards us with a flat and a degree for every single child we give birth to, the policy has nothing to do with us at all.

Chinese couples – especially women – are less willing to give birth these days. This is because the pressure is too high in today’s society. After giving birth, as a woman, you are not likely to return to work any time soon due to childcare. The more babies you have, the more you’ll have to sacrifice in your career.

In addition, when you become a parent you’ll have to think – and worry – about kids’ education in the future. Parents want the best of everything for their children, but the competition in China is way too fierce today.

In short, my generation of Chinese people is rather different from that of my parents. My parents’ generation lived for their children, but my generation lives for ourselves.”

‘If the government is serious they should improve childcare’

Wang Zhenyu is a 33-year-old researcher, married to Miao Dong, a 26-year-old freelance writer. They live in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, and have no children.

Miao Dong and Wang Zhenyu. Photograph: Handout

“I don’t think the relaxation of the rules is going to be very effective at all. In China these days, there are very few people who would like to consider having more than two children. Even among those who contemplate having that many kids, it is way too costly for young couples to raise them.

But today’s announcement from the top level is a signal that the central government is worried about the demographic trends these days. It’s a big challenge ahead for our country.

I am from a village in rural China. I was born in 1987. Even though it was still under China’s one-child policy, I had two siblings. My family back then paid some penalties to the authorities, and it was fine. My wife was born in a city, and she is the only child in her family.

I like children, but the competition is way too stiff in China these days. I have many things to worry about: how to live a better life for my small family and for my wider family.

My wife does not want children. It is because she wants to pursue her own career. It’s too much of a burden to raise a child – let alone more than one.

If the government is really serious about encouraging more babies, they should improve things such as welfare, childcare and eradicating discrimination against women in workplace. On top of that, educational resources is another big issue. They will all be factored into Chinese couples’ decisions.”

‘When I was growing up as a single child I hoped for a big family’

Gloria Ai is a 34-year-old TV presenter based in Beijing. She is looking forward to having babies soon.

Gloria Ai. Photograph: Handout

“I am a single child born in 1987 under the previous one-child policy. When I was growing up, I had always hoped for a big family. I enjoy being surrounded by children.

I have been running my own media business for the last few years. I understand that because I am financially well-off, I can afford to have a big family. This is a privilege. I think the new policy will allow me to do so, and would incentivise me to work harder for my children and my family.

More and more successful Chinese women around my age are becoming mothers. I have been sharing tips on better parenting with my friends of late, too.”

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