China bans stiff family planning slogans

Updated: 2007-08-05 08:48

BEIJING -- In an effort to win more understanding to the country's population control policy, China's top family planning authority has decided to clean up stiff or even coarsely-worded slogans on rural walls that ask people to have fewer children.

The National Population and Family Planning Commission issued a circular this week demanding local officials to substitute those stiff, offensive and bad-taste slogans with 190 recommended ones which it said had been selected from a national collection campaign.

The commission said in the circular currently many slogans promoting the family planning policy are poorly worded, or full of strong language that leave an impression of simply forcing people to give up having more babies, causing misunderstanding on the policy and even tarnishing the image of the government.

The slogans sometimes are full of wrongly written words and are also poorly painted, with an unorderly design of character size, color, typeface and position, the commission said.

The problems are not to be neglected, it said, though admitting slogans have played an indispensable role in promoting the state policy of family planning and creating a favorable environment for population growth control.

Before the cleanup campaign of the commission, some ridiculous population control slogans have long been laughing stocks of online satirists.

Widely posted slogans on BBS and blogs range from earthy ones like "Raise fewer babies but more piggies" to forcible or bloody ones like "Houses toppled, cows confiscated, if abortion demand rejected" and "One more baby means one more tomb."

If such low-quality slogans, which may cause public complaint and resentment, are not corrected and remain where they are, the country's family planning efforts in the new era will be hindered, the commission said, proposing a list of more amiable slogans including "The mother earth is too tired to sustain more children" and "Both boys and girls are parents' hearts."

The circular urged local officials to use understandable, persuasive and popular expressions in the slogans, warning them to avoid relentless and rude wording.

The family planning policy, implemented in 1979, allows families to have only one child, but ethnic minority couples can have more than one, while the restriction in rural areas has also been loosened in recent years.

The policy has helped China to reduce the speed of population growth, delaying by four years the 1.3 billion figure reached at the beginning of 2005.

However, the traditional idea that more children bring more happiness still prevails in rural areas, challenging the country's population control efforts. And the traditional preference for boys sometimes leads to selective abortion, causing worries over the imbalance of gender ratio.

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