When China recently announced change in 1 child policy, it was a total surprise to western observers and China experts. Some interpreted it as due to slow down in economy, labor shortages, or aging of the population. Others crowed triumphantly as failure of the population planning program, and human rights triumph over the authoritarian government. It would be pointless to rebut them here as different value systems preclude any logical meeting of mind. For example, the question of human rights for China differs from the western liberals. Here I just want to express my view over the years.
When I left China in summer of 1959, Great Leap Forward was all but over. Shortages and rationings were in full effect. I remember each has coupon entitled each adult 2 ounces of cooking oil per 10 days even in Shanghai. While one has 4 ounces of meat coupon the meat was sold out by daylight. I and other children usually wait in lines at 3 AM as adults have to work. We learned that meat lines didn’t guarantee it has meat to be sold in morning, so we usually waited on the beef stall as usually there were some supplies for Muslims as government policy favored minorities. When I was in Hong Kong during the next 2 years I read about possible famines in the newspapers. About some economist proposed population control and angered Mao. Over the years I have read about Malthus and Paul Ehrlich on zero population growth.
When China announced the 1 child policy I was fully supportive. To me it was obvious the benefits to the society, and the experience of the past 35 years validated it. It would be difficult to enforce and some tragedy was inevitable, such as forced abortions as when one is forced to live under rules they were eager that other were also. There can be no human right if people are starving, and society takes precedence over individual. I also do not want China to beg for help from the West, as advertising on TV asked donations for Care packages for famine victims in Africa which solves nothing except maybe relieve the conscience somewhat. Most people in the West consider the 1 child policy to be barbaric and violation of human rights. Yet looking at Chinese philosophical debates, even Western philosophies the society always takes precedence over individual.
When the 1 child policy was announced, it was understood that change will be necessary in 30-40 years as population stabilizes and ages. So now it comes to pass and West again trumpets the experience of India over China, democracy over authoritarianism. China growth under 7%, while India with fudging of numbers seem to better China. Green Revolution may have temporarily retarded the population problem India will face, but in 30 years I think China will stand as a shining example for all to emulate, and no one will bother to compare India to China again except maybe as a cautionary tale.
Yes, the one child policy no longer fit China’s current development objective. I supported it for the 1980s-1990s when resources were scared and economy badly underdeveloped (In many way, today’s China is still a middle income country). Now, It is time to move on. Singapore encourage couple to have one child during the 1960s-1970s but stopped that in the 1980s. From the 1990s onward, they tried to encourage more birth, even to setting up a national match making policy. I think the same will happen to China.
30 years ago as a student I listened a speech given by a high-ranking Chinese officer in Sydney University, soon enough came those smarty questions criticizing the 1 child policy.
The officer listened carefully then wrote the statistical calculation and draws a projection what will happen in year 2015 without the policy, population could amount to 1.6 billion, maybe more.
With winking eyes he commented: “We Chinese like your empty land and beautiful weather”
That settled the argument, all were quiet and swiftly the moderator changed to another topic.
Mister Unknown says
I find some of anti-Chinese propaganda revolving around the one-child policy quite hilarious. I saw a YouTube video (see link below) a few days ago, in which the narrator on the one hand belittles the one-child policy as ineffective, stating that birth rates started to fall before the start of the policy, and then seconds later talked about the “terrible costs” imposed by the policy, which included over 330 million abortions over the 40+ years.
If it really was responsible for 330M+ abortions, then by definition this policy is EXTREMELY effective. Some simple math (0.33B / 1.3-1.4B) suggests that if those birth happened, China’s population would be 23-25% larger than it is today. Furthermore, if 300M is the number that can be directly measured, what’s the number that can’t be easily measured? How many women avoided childbirth out of wedlock, or delayed the decision to have children due to this policy? I don’t know the answer but I bet it’s a significant enough number.
Anyway, enjoy this piece of comically incoherent China-bashing propaganda.
All these so-called activists are hypocrites. They are not responsible stake holders. Whenever, I got bogged down in discussion with these holier than thou characters, I will asked them how many Chinese immigrants will their countries take in. Even a super power like the US couldn’t support a hundred million Chinese immigrants! Any American couldn’t imagine having 100 million, let alone 200, 300 millions extra people. China is hosting almost 14 times that and is improving all its living standard daily.
China’s existing system is still evolving to cope with future development. I will challenge anyone to be a stake holder first before listening to their whiny opinion.
all the criticism over China’s population growth stems from deep seated racial anxiety from predominantly anglo white peoples
Mister Unknown says
Lol… I think that was Deng Xiaoping’s precise response when the Americans suggested that in order to normalize relations with the PRC, there needs to be a “Jackson-Vanik-like” arrangement in place, where Chinese are freely allowed to leave the country. Deng enthusiastically responded with something to the tone of “Of course! How many Chinese do you want to take to the US? 15 million? 40 million?” After that, nothing of the sort was ever mentioned again by the Americans. ;-D
Charles Liu says
Criticism aside, wasn’t China’s population management policy made in collaboration with UN population madate? Seem to recall reading tome UN document praising China’s population management policy. India has similar laws (again at the behest of UN) do they not?
Also, China’s one-child policy is in reality a de-facto two-child policy. For starter it didn’t apply to minority ethnics, only Hans. Even for Hans there exists many exemptions, for examples rural farming needs exemption, diabled parent care exemption, disabled first born exemption. More than one child are allowed, also, when both parents are only-child, in accordance to Chinese tradition of naming children after both mother and father’s family. Families are even permitted to have 2nd child following proper birth spacing of 3-5 years. Beyond that, 2nd, 3rd child can be had, provided the parents are willing to pay for social taxation (fines, unsubsidized education, health care, etc.)
In the west, non of these reasonably humane parts of China’s population managment policy is mentioned, only the very exceptional abuses that are not the norm are highlighted in order to demonize China.