Image: Chinese family
Andy Wong  /  AP
A Chinese woman and her child walk past a billboard bearing the words "Children's Big World" outside a shopping mall in Beijing on Sunday.
updated 8/5/2007 4:32:08 PM ET 2007-08-05T20:32:08

China has banned crude and insensitive slogans promoting the country's 'one-child' family planning policy, such as "Raise fewer babies but more piggies," which have stoked anger in rural areas, state media said Sunday.

China's 28-year-old family planning policy limits most urban couples to just one child and allows some families in the countryside to have a second child if their first is a girl.

Critics say that has led to forced abortions and sterilizations and a dangerously imbalanced sex ratio due to the traditional preference for male heirs, which has prompted countless families to abort female fetuses in hopes of getting boys.

The policy continues to engender anger and resentment, especially among farmers in the countryside, because of the sometimes brutal methods used to enforce it, such as heavy fines and the seizure of property. Local authorities themselves face demotions, criticism or the loss of jobs if they fail to hit population targets.

The National Population and Family Planning Commission said it was striking insensitive slogans promoting the policy in order to dispel the impression the government was "simply forcing people to give up having more babies, causing misunderstanding (of) the policy and even tarnishing the image of the government," the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xinhua said uncouth slogans also threatened to undermine China's efforts to keep the population under control. It paraphrased the family planning commission as saying such "low-quality slogans" could lead to "public complaint and resentment."

Harsh slogans
Among the slogans that were forbidden were "One more baby means one more tomb" and "Houses toppled, cows confiscated, if abortion demand rejected." Such slogans are often found painted on roadside buildings in rural areas.

The planning commission issued a list of 190 acceptable slogans, such as "Mother earth is too tired to sustain more children" and "Both boys and girls are parents' hearts."

The government contends the one-child policy has helped prevent at least 300 million births — about the size of the U.S. population — and aided China's rapid economic development.

But it has also been the cause of recent protests.

In May, thousands of farmers in southern Guangxi province rioted to protest fines they said were imposed "arbitrarily and brutally" against people who had more children than allowed under the policy, state media reported. Authorities detained 28 people after the incident.

Media reports said all public servants in the province's Bobai county had been ordered to collect fines from people who violated the policy. If violators failed to pay within three days, their homes would be demolished and their belongings seized.

One villager said some fees were as high as $1,300 — an unmanageable amount for an area where most annual incomes were only $130.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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