One of China's most famous policies is its one child per family law.
But it seems the leaders of the world's fastest growing economy are debating whether or not to reverse course. Score one for freedom.
Even a hint of changing course on a very large human rights issue brings some traction to the belief that the more China becomes part of the world, the more open it will become.
The one child policy has been in place since 1979. The Chinese government believed it was the correct action to alleviate social, economic and environmental issues in China at the time.
The fact remains that China's population is grossly distorted due to the one child policy. Antiquated beliefs have led many families to prefer male children to females.
China must and should reverse the policy.
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a Chinese think tank in Beijing, published a report in January 2010, stating that within ten years, one in five young men would be unable to find brides if the population trend continues on its current path.
In the same report, CASS also stated that by 2020, China will have 30 to 40 million more young men under the age of nineteen than young women. So basically, the young men of China have a future to look forward to of little prospect of marriage and a male population that is roughly the same as the population of the entire United States.
In fact, according to China's National Population and Family Planning Commission, the population will actually begin to shrink in 15 years. China's family size has been shrinking since the 1970s, which makes sense, given the implementation of the one child per family policy.
If the population dips below a certain point, it could result in a worst-case scenario of slowing economic growth in China. Considering that China is the major manufacturer of the entire world's goods, some people might argue that it would make sense to start pumping out the babies.
But there have been negatives to this policy. For instance, the crime rate in China has skyrocketed.
There have been stories leaking out of China of bride abduction, sex trafficking, rape and prostitution. This very well may be coincidence rather than an actual correlation, but it could be speculated that the shortage of women is causing men to revert to unethical means of procuring them.
The removal of the one child policy could present the opportunity for families to keep their newborn daughters, rather than killing them to reserve space in the family for a son, thereby reversing this criminal trend.
Although a decline in population could have negative effects, a minor decrease or simple stabilization of the population may actually be a good thing for China. The population decline would ease food and water shortages that China is already facing.
The government widely takes credit for giving China's current population economic prosperity by avoiding some 400 million additional births. On the flip side, many of the families that have violated the rule have either been fined or lost their jobs, and even sometimes their homes.
As with every decision, there are positive and negative aspects to all possible courses of action. Only China can make the right choice for its people.