CAIXINMEDIA

A Chinese Family Faces Lingering Evil Of One-Child Policy

A pregnant Chinese woman must abort her baby, or see her husband fired. After first changes to family planning laws, sweeping reform is now urgently needed.

A Chinese Family Faces Lingering Evil Of One-Child Policy
Liang Jianzhang and Hwang Wenzheng

-OpEd-

BEIJING â€" In a rural area of China's southwest Yunnan Province, China's strict family planning policies are forcing 41-year-old Mrs. Chen to face an impossible choice: abort her eight-month pregnancy or risk her police officer husband's job.

Because she already has a child and because she and her husband don't qualify for the rare exceptions to the one-child policy the country instituted in 1979, she is being harassed to terminate her "unplanned pregnancy." The head of the local Public Security Bureau responsible for family planning, along with some medical staff, reportedly visited Chen's home and intimidated her by saying that if she doesn't abort her fetus, her husband, a civilian police officer, will be dismissed from his position for violating the policy. The couple would also be subject to an enormous fine.

This is despite the fact that the central government has a strict prohibition on late-term abortions for non-medical reasons. Most countries ban abortions of pregnancies that are older than five months. Inducing labor in the eighth month would be particularly troubling because at that point there is a baby fully equipped with all human vital signs. And given her age, if Chen is intimidated into aborting, her chances of having another child in the future are slim. To say nothing of the grief involved for the couple.

Two months ago, the National Health and Family Planning Commission announced that it would be fast-tracking all relevant work related to a new, two-children policy to make it effective starting in October. It can't work fast enough.

Accountability gone awry

But there are other problems. Much of what's driving the pressure on the Chen family is the way the performance of public employees is judged. No matter how well the leader of a public security bureau performs, he can be dismissed it he fails targets for so-called "family planning responsibilities." Not only that, the punishment is collective: The entire staff is held responsible for family planning implementation, meaning that unplanned pregnancies in the jurisdiction create a penalty for the whole team.

The objective of public policy was originally about bringing welfare to the people. But China's current population and childbirth policy fails to fulfill this duty. Worse, it forces parents to end the lives of their own children. Even if civilian society does its best to help the involved parents and secure babies' right to life, the effect is doomed to be limited.

And in the context of China's low-birth-rate crisis, the situation becomes even more ridiculous. Given China's current sex ratio and the survival rate of girls, each couple would need to have at least 2.2 children to maintain the country's population, something that's known as the "replacement rate."

According to the data of National Bureau of Statistics, China's birth rates from 2010 to 2013 were 1.18, 1.04, 1.26 and 1.24, respectively â€" far lower than the replacement rate. Even more worrying is that the number of Chinese women between 24 and 29 years old â€" prime childbearing years â€" will fall from 73 million to 41 million over the next decade.

This means that even if China fully liberalized population control and encouraged fertility, a Chinese population collapse would still be inevitable. It would probably be attended by deteriorating resources and environmental problems, severely threatening China's sustainable development and society in general.

We ask that the Ministry of Public Security and the National Health and Family Planning Commission intervene and prevent this avoidable tragedy. And before China makes an official announcement about reversing its population policy, it should immediately abandon the practice of linking performance assessments with family planning targets. Tragedies such as the Chens are bound to inspire public outrage and create societal instability.

China should eventually abolish entirely its birth control policies and encourage fertility, both in the name of human rights and to address its shrinking population. These tragedies should not continue.

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Economy

Air Next: How A Crypto Scam Collapsed On A Single Spelling Mistake

It is today a proven fraud, nailed by the French stock market watchdog: Air Next resorted to a full range of dubious practices to raise money but the simplest of errors exposed the scam and limited the damage to investors.

Sky is the crypto limit

Laurence Boisseau

PARIS — Air Next promised to use blockchain technology to revolutionize passenger transport. Should we have read something into its name? In fact, the company was talking a lot of hot air from the start. Air Next turned out to be a scam, with a fake website, false identities, fake criminal records, counterfeited bank certificates, aggressive marketing … real crooks. Thirty-five employees recruited over the summer ranked among its victims, not to mention the few investors who put money in the business.

Maud (not her real name) had always dreamed of working in a start-up. In July, she spotted an ad on Linkedin and was interviewed by videoconference — hardly unusual in the era of COVID and teleworking. She was hired very quickly and signed a permanent work contract. She resigned from her old job, happy to get started on a new adventure.


Others like Maud fell for the bait. At least ten senior managers, coming from major airlines, airports, large French and American corporations, a former police officer … all firmly believed in this project. Some quit their jobs to join; some French expats even made their way back to France.

Share capital of one billion 

The story began last February, when Air Next registered with the Paris Commercial Court. The new company stated it was developing an application that would allow the purchase of airline tickets by using cryptocurrency, at unbeatable prices and with an automatic guarantee in case of cancellation or delay, via a "smart contract" system (a computer protocol that facilitates, verifies and oversees the handling of a contract).

The firm declared a share capital of one billion euros, with offices under construction at 50, Avenue des Champs Elysées, and a president, Philippe Vincent ... which was probably a usurped identity.

Last summer, Air Next started recruiting. The company also wanted to raise money to have the assets on hand to allow passenger compensation. It organized a fundraiser using an ICO, or "Initial Coin Offering", via the issuance of digital tokens, transacted in cryptocurrencies through the blockchain.

While nothing obliged him to do so, the company owner went as far as setting up a file with the AMF, France's stock market regulator which oversees this type of transaction. Seeking the market regulator stamp is optional, but when issued, it gives guarantees to those buying tokens.

screenshot of the typo that revealed the Air Next scam

The infamous typo that brought the Air Next scam down

compta online

Raising Initial Coin Offering 

Then, on Sept. 30, the AMF issued an alert, by way of a press release, on the risks of fraud associated with the ICO, as it suspected some documents to be forgeries. A few hours before that, Air Next had just brought forward by several days the date of its tokens pre-sale.

For employees of the new company, it was a brutal wake-up call. They quickly understood that they had been duped, that they'd bet on the proverbial house of cards. On the investor side, the CEO didn't get beyond an initial fundraising of 150,000 euros. He was hoping to raise millions, but despite his failure, he didn't lose confidence. Challenged by one of his employees on Telegram, he admitted that "many documents provided were false", that "an error cost the life of this project."

What was the "error" he was referring to? A typo in the name of the would-be bank backing the startup. A very small one, at the bottom of the page of the false bank certificate, where the name "Edmond de Rothschild" is misspelled "Edemond".

Finding culprits 

Before the AMF's public alert, websites specializing in crypto-assets had already noted certain inconsistencies. The company had declared a share capital of 1 billion euros, which is an enormous amount. Air Next's CEO also boasted about having discovered bitcoin at a time when only a few geeks knew about cryptocurrency.

Employees and investors filed a complaint. Failing to find the general manager, Julien Leclerc — which might also be a fake name — they started looking for other culprits. They believe that if the Paris Commercial Court hadn't registered the company, no one would have been defrauded.

Beyond the handful of victims, this case is a plea for the implementation of more secure procedures, in an increasingly digital world, particularly following the pandemic. The much touted ICO market is itself a victim, and may find it hard to recover.

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