Plans by the Chinese government for drafting and passing a national law on population and birth planning were first reported in 1978. Progress toward that politically sensitive goal has been, however, very slow. During the past two decades, the legal basis of China's birth planning program was limited to provincial legislation. By the late 1990s, birth planning was the only major national policy area that did not have national enabling legislation.
In January 2000 the State Birth Planning Commission sent a draft of the law on population to the State Council for interagency review and party approval. At the end of 2000, the National People's Congress placed the law on its 2001 agenda. After the required multiple reviews, and with some changes, the Standing Committee of the NPC passed the Law on Population and Birth Planning on 29 December 2001, and on the same day President Jiang Zemin signed and promulgated the Law. The Law is to come into effect on 1 September 2002.
The background and significance of this legislation are discussed in detail in the opening article in the present issue of this journal. The author of the article, Edwin A. Winckler, also prepared an English translation of the Law on Population and Birth Planning. This translation is reproduced below. It is followed by a note by the translator.