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China to advocate ‘one couple, two children’ policy

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Beijing: Chinese lawmakers consider amending the family planning law to allow couples to have two children amid efforts to counter shrinkage of the workforce and an ageing population.

“The State advocates that one couple can give birth to two children,” Xinhua cited a draft amendment submitted for review at the bi-monthly session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee which opened on Monday.

The draft came after the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee decided in October to give the go ahead for the universal two-child rule, which will replace the decades-long “one couple, one child” policy.

Li Bin, head of National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), said the CPC’s decision was made to adapt to the transition of China’s population from young to old currently underway.

In order to implement the decision, the top legislature must amend the family planning law which took effect in 2002.

Under the current law, citizens who marry late and delay childbearing may be entitled to longer nuptial and maternity leaves. Couples who volunteer to have only one child in their lifetime enjoy rewards.

The articles were deleted in the draft, implying the new law will likely take effect on January 1, 2016.

The amendment will not affect the welfare enjoyed by the elderly whose family abides by the current family planning law, parents who have only one child and parents whose only child is disabled or deceased.

While clarifying the draft, Li said people who have been receiving rewards and assistance before the law was amended will continue to receive it afterwards.

The draft also allows couples of a reproductive age to make their own choice whether to adopt contraceptive methods. It no longer stipulates that couples shall accept technical services and guidance for family planning.

Medical institutes will also be able to employ assisted reproductive technology after being authorised based on their personnel, facilities and ethical management, according to the draft.

The trade of sperm, ovum and embryo are forbidden. Surrogate pregnancy in any form is not allowed. Those involved in such actions would receive punishment ranging from warnings and fines to criminal penalties, according to the draft.

China’s family planning policy was first introduced in the 1970s to rein in the surging population.

Since its implementation, the policy has resulted in an estimated reduction of some 400 million people in China, but it was also blamed for generating a number of social problems, mainly a decreasing labour force and an ageing population.

In 2013, China relaxed its birth rules, allowing couples to qualify for a second birth if one of the partners was an only child.

The one-child policy was abandoned at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee held in October this year.

The change of policy is intended to balance population development and address the challenge of an ageing population, according to a communique issued after the key meeting.

Experts believe that being able to have two children will benefit about 100 million families around the country.

The change in policy is expected to mean over 30 million more people in the labour force by 2050 and a decrease of two percentage points in the share of elderly of the Chinese population, said Wang Peian, deputy head of the NHFPC, in a press conference held in November.

The total population will slightly increase, with its peak reached at 1.45 billion in 2029, Wang said.

The adopting of the two-child policy is also expected to boost China’s economic growth rate by about 0.5 percent, he said.(IANS)

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This AI System Can Evade Censorship In India, China and Kazakhstan

Researchers develop an AI tool that evades censorship in India, China and Kazakhstan

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(AI)-based system automatically learns to evade censorship in India, China and Kazakhstan. Pixabay

Researchers have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based system that automatically learns to evade censorship in India, China and Kazakhstan.

The tool, called Geneva (short for Genetic Evasion), found dozens of ways to circumvent censorship by exploiting gaps in censors’ logic and finding bugs that the researchers said would have been virtually impossible for humans to find manually.

The researchers are scheduled to introduce Geneva during a peer-reviewed talk at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 26th Conference on Computer and Communications Security in London on Thursday.

“With Geneva, we are, for the first time, at a major advantage in the censorship arms race,” said Dave Levin, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Maryland in the US and senior author of the paper.

“Geneva represents the first step toward a whole new arms race in which artificial intelligence systems of censors and evaders compete with one another. Ultimately, winning this race means bringing free speech and open communication to millions of users around the world who currently don’t have them,” Levin said.\

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This AI system that evades censorship is called ‘Geneva’. Pixabay

To demonstrate that Geneva worked in the real world against undiscovered censorship strategies, the team ran Geneva on a computer in China with an unmodified Google Chrome browser installed.

By deploying strategies identified by Geneva, the user was able to browse free of keyword censorship.

The researchers also successfully evaded censorship in India, which blocks forbidden URLs, and Kazakhstan, which was eavesdropping on certain social media sites at the time, said a statement from the University of Maryland.

All information on the Internet is broken into data packets by the sender’s computer and reassembled by the receiving computer.

One prevalent form of Internet censorship works by monitoring the data packets sent during an Internet search.

The censor blocks requests that either contain flagged keywords (such as “Tiananmen Square” in China) or prohibited domain names (such as “Wikipedia” in many countries).

When Geneva is running on a computer that is sending out web requests through a censor, it modifies how data is broken up and sent, so that the censor does not recognise forbidden content or is unable to censor the connection.

Known as a genetic algorithm, Geneva is a biologically inspired type of AI that Levin and his team developed to work in the background as a user browses the web from a standard Internet browser.

Like biological systems, Geneva forms sets of instructions from genetic building blocks. But rather than using DNA as building blocks, Geneva uses small pieces of code.

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By deploying strategies identified by Geneva, the user is able to browse free of keyword censorship. Pixabay

Individually, the bits of code do very little, but when composed into instructions, they can perform sophisticated evasion strategies for breaking up, arranging or sending data packets.

The tool evolves its genetic code through successive attempts (or generations). With each generation, Geneva keeps the instructions that work best at evading censorship and kicks out the rest.

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Geneva mutates and cross breeds its strategies by randomly removing instructions, adding new instructions, or combining successful instructions and testing the strategy again.

Through this evolutionary process, Geneva is able to identify multiple evasion strategies very quickly, said the study. (IANS)