“…In her coming book “One Child, The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment,” the journalist Mei Fong describes its gargantuan proportions: Half a million employees of the National Population and Family Planning Commission involved in everything from recording women’s menstrual cycles to making propaganda films and conducting pharmacological research.
These officials are supplemented by as many as 85 million part-timers, including thuggish enforcers who invade homes to collect fines. They also act as eyes and ears for the party at a street level. Some pad their salaries with bribes to turn a blind eye to infractions; added up, these kickbacks sustain a sizable black economy.
In 2013, this bureaucracy was folded into the health ministry, crimping its powers and opening the way to a policy easing.
But the relaxation may have come too late; demographic decline, once under way, is almost impossible to reverse. China, writes Ms. Fong, “is rapidly creating a population that is too old, too male, and, quite possibly, too few…”