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Chinese drug firm starts ‘let’s have a baby’ campaign. Angry women say ‘let’s not’

Pharmaceutical company’s subway adverts prompt backlash after appearing uncomfortably close to official efforts to push couples into having more children

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 August, 2018, 2:25pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 August, 2018, 8:10pm

A Chinese pharmaceutical company’s subway advertising campaign has touched a raw nerve with passengers after urging women to have more babies, local media reported.

The campaign, which saw the subway carriages on the number 2 line in Changsha city in the central province of Hunan painted pink, was designed to promote vitamins designed for pregnant women produced by Elevit, China Youth Daily reported on Sunday.

But for many passengers the use of slogans promoting the “1,001 reasons for having babies” appeared uncomfortably close to recent government campaigns to exhorting couples to have more children.

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One reason listed was: “Love’s power is incredible and there should be a miracle of life. So let’s have a baby.”

Other reasons include: “[I] don’t want to envy other people’s babies. So let’s have a baby,” and “The world can’t lose a beauty like me [after my death]. So let’s have a baby.”

The campaign generated a huge controversy online, with some women complaining on social media the campaign was “embarrassing”. One wrote: “Sorry, I have 1,001 reasons for not having babies.”

Another web user wrote, “Pushing people to have babies will end up making people do the opposite. I have come to dislike kids more now.”

Following the lifting of the one-child policy in 2015 and the further easing of restrictions, the Chinese authorities are now actively trying to encourage couples to have more children as fears grow of the demographic impact of a rapidly ageing society.

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But many of the efforts have proved controversial and a recent proposal to force all under-40s to pay into a “reproduction fund” – effectively penalising people with fewer than two children – caused intense controversy as critics attacked it as yet another attempt by the state to interfere with people’s family lives.

The Changsha subway adverts are scheduled to be displayed until the end of this month. The subway company said it had vetted the content according to the law and had not found any problems with it.

But with widespread controversy it stirred, the company said it was considering whether to end the campaign early, the newspaper reported.

Elevit has yet to respond to the controversy and did not respond to a request for comment.