SPECIAL NOTE: Hi Mei Fong, you are a Chinese yourself, born in Singapore…if you were in China after the death of Chairman Mao Zedong in 1976…I am positively sure you would be one of the ardent supporters of the Old Child Policy at the time…Dear Mao did not leave China a prosperous country…History cannot and will not hide the fact his economic policies had created massive starvation within China…plus his belief STRENGTH IN NUMBERS, thus not only praising, supporting and encouraging women to have children and more children…when the country could not support the mouths of more children! Yes, a disaster when he died, the country had tooooooooooooooooooooooooo many mouths to feed…I know you would have been one of them to support the One Child Policy…so be generous and kind in your criticisms now…looking back, Mao did what he thought was best for his new nation, a new country and he believed more people would help his cause and the evolution of a new China…strength in numbers! After his death, top leaders thought differently because they did not have the means to feed millions and one solution was to come up with this drastic population control…I do not have any problem understanding the radical measure implemented by the Chinese government in late 1970s and early 1980s to reduce the number of unwanted births in order to reduce starvation in the country. You know I spent 7 years as a visiting professor in China, and many grandparents (they were young at the time of Mao) would rather not talk about Chairman Mao…one grandmother told me that when she was a child, all she could think of everyday, every minute, was food food food food…and now she is happy to have food food food food all over China…and she would rather not dwell in the past when she suffered greatly! Yes, everybody if anybody knows Mao created HELL for many ordinary poor rural Chinese because of his drastic unenlightened unguided economic policies that brought misery to the population in China. So now, China is concerned because women down the decades have enjoyed giving birth to one child, especially those in urban areas…the 55 ethnic minority groups could have as many children as they want…and the rural Chinese (you have to remember more than 60% of Chinese are rural or live in rural China) and they were not happy with one child because they needed more hands to work in the farms! Now they must be laughing at this reversal of policy to encourage women to have more than one child, last year two, this year three! Rural Chinese will have a hard time understanding government birth policies now! Many urban women are resisting this generous policy now, saying they are used to the NORM, and that is one child…In Shanghai, less than 30% of women are willing to try the new policy! Will China try like Japan? offering financial incentives to have more children! The main reason for not wanting to have more than one child is COST OF RAISING A CHILD IN CHINA TODAY! I am not a woman, but I do not believe this is the best reason for not having more than one child! Steve, USA, September 3, 2018 email@example.com wechat 1962816801
China’s one-child policy
China’s lost little emperors… how the ‘one-child policy’ will haunt the country for decades
Encouraging people to have more children is an abrupt reversal of the previous policy
Sun 2 Sep 2018
Endings matter. They herald a reckoning, something that doesn’t come about very often in a place like China. While there has been very little official stocktaking over painful aspects of the country’s recent history, private citizens are free to do their own assessments and there has been an enormous amount of public venting on the shortcomings of the one-child policy in recent years.
Part of this is because, unlike the 1989 Tiananmen Square student demonstrations, which mostly affected the educated elite, the one-child policy has imprinted itself deeply into the lives of almost everyone in China, creating a hugely imbalanced population that has too many single men and too many retirees. The pressures are felt – and will continue to be felt – across every social level, from “bare branches” – rural men unable to find brides – to college-educated urban women stigmatised as “leftovers” if they stay single.
“One child” is a misnomer. For the 30-plus years the policy was in full effect, only about a third of Chinese households were subject to stringent one-child limits. The rest could have more children, conditional on where they lived, the kinds of jobs they had or their ethnic makeup.
Two years ago, I published a book on China’s family planning practices, basically saying that the one-child policy was on its last legs.
My book came out just as China announced a switch to a nationwide two-child policy. This was popularly hailed as “the end of the one-child policy”. Pedants like myself called this premature. The end is coming, I insisted, but not yet.
Whether one or two, childbearing was restricted, with painful punishments for transgressors. I’d met dozens: farmers who’d seen their homes razed, college professors who’d lost jobs, women forced into infanticide or abortions.
Many are still haunted by memories, including an official who described how he chased a woman neck-deep into a pond, where she pleaded in vain to save her pregnancy.
China’s ‘little emperor’ singleton children shoulder the burden of an ageing society
The end of the policy will come only when all childbearing restrictions and, more importantly, all penalties are dropped, I argued.
Now there are credible rumbles that Beijing may switch to a three-child policy or possibly drop all restrictions soon. I am once again a latter-day Cassandra shrieking: “The end is nigh!”
Public understanding of the consequences of the one-child policy have shifted, too. When I started researching my book, I felt a sharp disconnect between city dwellers, who seemed mostly in favour of the policy, and rural dwellers, who suffered the most from its extremes.
But in recent years, even the initial beneficiaries of the policy – “little emperor” singleton children, for example – are becoming aware of its shortcomings as they shoulder the burden of an ageing society. “When I was an only kid, I had so much attention from my grandparents. I was so spoilt. But now I have to give back and it is tearing me apart,” confided a friend who is nursing a parent with dementia.
She is not alone. By 2050, one in four people in China will be a retiree, with but a nascent social safety net for support. With fewer workers paying into the system and more pensioners drawing from it, the pension shortfall could reach trillions of dollars by 2050, according to a Deutsche Bank estimate. That is why there’s a popular Chinese saying: “We’ll get old before we get rich.”
New rules restricting abortions in Jiangxi province raised fears that women’s reproductive rights could be eroded
The proposed elimination of birth restrictions has prompted a bitter re-examination, writes the Globe and Mail correspondent Nathan VanderKlippe, with a “simmering anger among Chinese citizens over the ways their lives have been forcibly sculpted”.
Endings also matter because they signal new beginnings. The end of the one-child policy will signal a new phase for Beijing, one dedicated to actively promoting sagging birth rates. Rather abruptly, the country is switching from “one child” to “one more child”.
Worryingly, recent trends suggest that Beijing may borrow more from its old playbook, leaning towards coercion, not persuasion. Instead of bonuses and incentives, there has been increasing talk – and some action – in the direction of fines and punishments.
Earlier this month, academics at Nanjing University proposed a “childbirth fund” that would require mandatory contributions from young workers to be withdrawn only by those who have two or more children. In essence, it would be the opposite of the social compensation fine during the one-child policy, which forced transgressors to pay up to 10 times their household income.
In June, new rules restricting abortions in Jiangxi province raised fears that women’s reproductive rights could be eroded. Some provinces have cancelled “late wedding leave”, a 30-day, paid work leave given to encourage people to defer marriage until after the age of 25. In 2016, a city in central China sent a letter to members of the local Communist party chapter urging them to have a second child to encourage others, peddling the slogan: “Doing it starts with me.”
The abrupt switch from banning to boosting births gives rise to some hilarity and much cynicism. Recently, I saw an article on the history of birth planning propaganda posters.
There was one I’d seen years ago in the countryside, a popular slogan: “Get abortion! Get induction! But never get delivered!”
Another, put up after the two-child policy change, says: “Conceive, give birth and raise it, but never get it aborted!”
Mei Fong is the author of One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment and former China correspondent for the Wall Street Journal