Two days after the US presidential elections, the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party will open - and the party is aware that the growing urban middle class is becoming restive.
Now, in a report leaked by the official news agency Xinhua, we have become aware of one of the treats that the party is about to handout. A study by the party linked China Development Research Foundation has recommended that the party's one-child policy should be changed and urban families will now be entitled to have two children.
The one-child policy reduced the Chinese population, but made more resources available for economic growth. The policy was ruthlessly enforced, including infanticide at hospitals.
As parents preferred that their one child be a male child, the policy also led to gender imbalance. There have been frequent stories in the press about Chinese men going abroad to find a mate due to the shortage of prospective brides.
One of the study's co-authors Li Jiamin justified the old policy and the need for altering it. "In the past, family planning was important for our national development, but now the country has changed and the decision about how many children to have should be given back to families."
The change says the study means that the costs in terms of social conflict outweigh the benefits and China faces the threat of a graying population, a phenomenon that has occurred in Southern Europe.
The government argues that the recommendations for change should draw encouragement from experimental areas that had the family size limits lifted. Residents of those areas did not revert to having large families; they displayed a better gender balance and most importantly "These areas also have less conflict between the government and the people.”
This last sentence should close the deal for the party that can moreover congratulate itself on the accomplishments that facilitated the change of policy and for keeping its finger on China's socio-economic pulse.