Iain Duncan Smith's decision to cut benefits for families with three or more children will draw approving nods from Chinese apparatchiks behind One Child Policy


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Indy Politics

Iain Duncan Smith may style himself as the quiet man of the Tory right, but if his latest policy proposal is anything to go by then he is also a dyed in the wool Chinese communist.

With his drastic decision to cut benefits for families with three or more children, the mandarin-mannered Work and Pensions Secretary will have drawn approving nods from the Chinese apparatchiks whose One Child Policy is the biggest social experiment ever conducted.

The draconian population control measure -which penalises Chinese citizens who don’t keep their family planning under strict control - ensures that the very idea of a third child is something the vast majority of Chinese can only dream about; even a second child is a major taboo.

Imposed in 1979, the legislation limited most families to a single child as officials wrestled with teeming population growth in the world's most populous country.

But its greying workforce means China is now relaxing the rules to stave off a looming pensions crisis—meeting the UK halfway.

Indeed, the National Population and Family Planning Commission—which reckons that some 400 million births have been prevented by the policy—implements policies very much in the spirit of Mr Duncan Smith’s suggestions.

Under one characteristically complicated provision that recently crept into law, two only children who marry may parent a second child if the mother is under 28 and the second child is born within four years of the first.

In the past, such couples would have been fined a fifth of their annual income, and lost health and education benefits for the child.

Yet for all the apparent injustice of the One Child Policy, Chinese population experts have a sobering response to Western hand-wringing, urging critics to consider the global ramifications of 1.7 billion Chinese free to procreate to their hearts’ content.