Rethinking Chinas one-child policyThe child in timeThirty years on, some want to scrap the repressive policy. The problem may beto get people to have more—not fewer—babiesAug 19th 2010 | BEIJINGIN MARCH, Yang Zhizhu was fired as a law lecturer in Beijing for having more than onechild. He knew the risk, but he badly wanted to father a boy. His story is not rare in acountry which for 30 years has told couples to settle for a single child and has useddraconian measures to limit births. But Mr Yang’s high-profile rebellion has won sympathyeven in the state-controlled press.Rumblings of discontent over the one-child policy have been growing louder, stirred bydebate over whether it is needed now that the first children born under it face the prospectof caring for an ever-increasing number of pensioners. A report last month by the ChineseAcademy of Social Sciences (CASS), a leading government think-tank, said officials wereseriously overestimating the fertility rate (the number of children an average woman canexpect to have in her lifetime). Rather than suppress the rate, suggested the report, thegovernment should try to lift it.When Mr Yang told of his plight on his blog, Beijing Times, a newspaper (loosely) controlledby the Communist Party, picked up the story. It quoted Mr Yang saying his second child was“a gift from God” and said he had ignored officials who wanted the fetus aborted. SouthernWeekend reported that the case had drawn more attention than any other since the launchof the one-child policy. Century Weekly, a magazine, said scholars and the public agreedthat giving birth was a “basic right” that should not be subject to official diktat.Southern Weekend had already taken up the cause in March, describing the hitherto littlepublicised case of Yicheng county in the northern province of Shanxi. Yicheng, it said, hadbeen trying a two-child policy for 25 years. Despite its more relaxed regulations, the countyhas a lower-than-average population growth rate. It also has a smaller-than-averageimbalance between boys and girls. Elsewhere a traditional preference for boys, combinedwith the one-child policy, has resulted in widespread abortions of baby girls.In many other areas, something more like a two-child policy has been emerging. Ruralresidents are usually allowed to have a second if the first is a girl (typically after a gap offour years). Ethnic minorities can have more. Many places have started allowing parentswho themselves lack siblings to have two offspring. A senior family-planning official said in2007 that in effect the one-child policy applied to less than 40% of the population.The government, however, shows little inclination to scrap it. September 25th will be the30th anniversary of an “open letter” by the party that is often seen as marking the policy’slaunch. The letter spoke of having a one-child strategy for 30 or 40 years, encouraging
some to hope that it might end as early as this year. In February, however, an official said itwould remain unchanged at least until 2015.At the end of May, rumours spread that plans to hold a national census in November couldin effect herald an amnesty for the likes of Mr Yang. A police directive said that, inpreparation for it, officials must give household registration papers to children born inviolation of family-planning directives. Normally such papers are handed to “black children”,as offspring like Mr Yang’s are commonly known, only on payment of a huge fine (or fee, asofficials say). In cities this is often between five and ten times the local average annualincome.But officials have been trying to quash the speculation, saying that “fees” will still beimposed. Mr Yang, who refuses to pay, says he is lucky not to live in the countryside, whereofficials routinely seize property from those who cannot afford the levy. He thinks theywould be too embarrassed to do so in his case. He lives on a campus run by the CommunistYouth League.Some Chinese scholars argue that the government is at risk of overdoing things. They saythe country’s fertility rate may actually be much lower than the official figure of around 1.8.This number has been used for more than a decade (and by international agencies, seechart). It suggests a comfortable levelling off after a steep decline in the rate in the 1970s,after mild childbirth restrictions were introduced.The recent CASS report said the rate that would be expected if women had exactly as manychildren as allowed would be 1.47. The government uses the higher figure believing thatmany “black children” were missed by censuses. But the report disagreed, saying suchserious underreporting was unlikely. It said data showed that the 150m-strong migrantpopulation has a fertility rate of only 1.14 (similar to that of registered urban residents).This belies the common image of migrants as big producers of unauthorised offspring.Zhang Juwei of CASS believes the overall fertility rate is no higher than 1.6.
China cannot avoid its looming ageing problem, but these lower fertility estimates suggestits impact could be greater than officials have bargained for. The CASS study calls for a“prompt” change of policy to get the fertility rate up to around the “replacement level” of2.1. The problem could be in persuading Chinese to have more children. In cities andwealthier rural areas, surveys found that the number of babies women said they actuallywanted would produce a fertility rate well below 1.47. Mr Yang would like more but his wifehas had enough. His second baby turned out to be a girl. So he called her Ruonan, ahomonym for “like a boy”.Asiahttp://www.economist.com/node/16846390Chinas One Child PolicyUploaded by guntalk on Aug 11, 2005Chinas One Child PolicyFor centuries China has stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences.On the other hand, over the last decade it has plummeted economically. A big factor for this massive downfall isthe population of the country. China is overpopulated, at the dawn of this century there were some 426 millionpeople living in China. Today the population is about 1.2 billion. About two-thirds of this 900 million-personincrease was added within the last 50 years. In essence, the Mainland China alone contributes to at least twentypercent of the worlds contribution. (Ogilvy 2000:97) The Chinese government realized that something had to bedone or they would never be able to prosper as a country. Not at the rate they were heading, thats for sure. Theydecided to set up a plan to reduce the population growth. They called it Chinas one-child policy. This policy limitsa Chinese couple to bearing only one child. (Milwertz 1997:56) Initially, the Chinese government adopted thepolicy in order to reduce the severe famine that plagued the country. They realized later that it would also helpthem prosper economically since the overpopulation held them back. The one child policy, although not formallywritten into law consisted of three main points. Advocating delayed marriage and delayed child bearing,advocating fewer and healthier births, and advocating one child per couple. (Wang 1995:34) Immediately after thepolicy was enforced, infanticide was introduced. How could a couple murder their child just because it was afemale? Gender played a huge role in the Chinese culture. Males were definitely the dominant sex and a familywithout a male child was looked down at.The Chinese tradition implied that there must be a boy among the children in order to continue the family. Theyfelt that the males carried the name of their ancestors and they needed to carry the name for the next generation.Therefore, whenever a couple had a female child they reverted to infanticide. They would either abandon the childor even worse, kill it. This way they had another chance at getting a boy. As technologies advanced, they wereable to determine the gender of the child before birth and used abortion as a means to eliminate a female birth.These wide uses of infanticide obviously arouse some issues. The sex ratio was totally unbalanced and the infantmortality rate was horrible. Males were completely dominant in China. They did most of the work and were thehead of the household. The one concept that the Chinese people are not considering is that in the future there willbe far too many males and far too less females. Sure, the one-child policy will reduce the population growth rate,but it might lower to a point where reproduction occurs very rarely. It is understandable though, because thefamily name is such a big concept to the Chinese and for it to be carried on is very important. (Clubb 1978:15)They take their cultural beliefs very seriously and will do anything to keep their ancestors happy. The fact ofcarrying their family name on to the next generation cannot be the only reason to kill off their female babies. Girlsin China receive far less attention and resources than boys and are deemed an insignificant role in society.There are always those women that do not really care whether they have a boy or girl, but it is their husbandswho force them to abort the child. There have been several cases where a wife has been brutally beaten by herhusband just so she would abort her child. (Wong 1995:3) The men take having a male child a lot more seriouslythan the women. In some cases the husband forces the wife to go into hiding when she is about to give birth. Thisway no one knows that she gave birth. Then if she has a girl, she can simply abandon it without anyone knowing.A lot of women have decided to apply for refugee status in other countries for fear that they will be forcibly
aborted, sterilized and discriminated against. (Ogilvy 2000:12) This always does not work because a lot of thesecountries in the surrounding area of the country are not as lenient in allowing Chinese refugees onto their land.A lot of people found it easy to hide their children. Many people had more than one child and did not let thegovernment know. The biggest problem this led to was that the children that were not registered did not receiveany medical benefits. It was as if they never did exist. They call this elite group of unregistered children the "blackpopulation" and this makes the Chinese government statistics completely off. (Clubb 1978:18) These children arenot allowed to go to school, and later will have difficulty obtaining permission to marry, to relocate, and for otherlife choices requiring the governments permission. (Milwertz 1997:21)Chinas one-child policy has brought so many problem, that one needs to wonder if it was actually a good idea inthe first place. Sure, it lowered the population growth rate tremendously, but the number of infant deaths tookover. Women in China are forced to give up their babies and are sometimes beaten. Males are still the dominantgender and have the power of the family name behind them. Tradition will always live in China, and a male childwill always be a necessity. The family name must be carried on and the only way to do this is through a male.Works CitedMilwertz, Cecilia Nathansen1997 Accepting population control: urban Chinese women and the one-child family policy. Richmond,Surrey [England] : Curzon PressOgilvy, James A2000 Chinas futures : scenarios for the worlds fastest growing economy, ecology, and society. SanFrancisco :Jossey-Bass,Clubb. O Edmund1978 20th century China. New York : Columbia University PressWang Xin.1995 . Population vs development. Challenge of the new century. Beijing Review. Vol 38, p12-15. "Chinas Population Policy" URL: http://www.com/China "One Child Policy" (13 January 1997)Wong, Dr. Yin1995 "A Question of Duty" Readers Digest,.China faces growing gender imbalanceMore than 24 million Chinese men ofmarrying age could find themselveswithout spouses by 2020, says the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.The gender imbalance among newborns is the most serious demographic problem forthe countrys population of 1.3 billion, says the academy.It cites sex-specific abortions as a major factor, due to Chinas traditional bias towardsmale children.The academy says gender selection abortions are "extremely common".In some provinces, 130 boys are born for each100 girls
This is especially true in rural areas, and ultra-sound scans, first introduced in the late1980s, have increased the practice.Forced prostitutionThe latest figures show that for every 100 girls born in China, 119 boys are born, theacademy says in a new book.Researcher Wang Guangzhou, quoted by the Global Times newspaper, said theimplications were that men in poorer parts of China may remain single throughouttheir life."The chance of getting married will be rareif a man is more than 40-years-old in thecountryside. They will be more dependenton social security as they age and havefewer household resources to rely on," hesaid.In some provinces, 130 boys are born foreach 100 girls, the book says.Experts at the academy also predict thegender imbalance will lead to more inter-generational marriages, where a wife is olderthan her husband.A reluctance among young urban Chinese to have a first or second child isexacerbating the problem.Academy sociologist Yan Hua said: "Peoples minds have changed a lot during the last20 years."Young couples either dont want to have a second child, or would prefer to live aDINK (Double Income No Kid) life."The growing imbalance means that forced prostitution and human trafficking hasbecome "rampant" in some parts of the country, according to the researchers.While analysts admit there is definitely a pronounced gender imbalance in China, theyalso say that exact information is difficult to obtain because some families are thoughtto avoid registering female babies in order to make it easier for them to have a secondchild.CHINAS GENDER IMBALANCE119 boys born per 100 girls. Rises to 130 boysper 100 girls in some rural areasTotal population 1.3 billionExpected peak 1.6 billion in 2050One child policy written into constitution in 1978Many rural couples allowed second child if firstis a girlhttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8451289.stm