Cheng “Chris” Yan Kit (Hong Kong, AC 08-10)
How important is the problem of population in the eyes of Chinese leaders? ‘Any small problems will become a huge disaster when it is multiplied by 1.3 billion times, any significant achievements will become merely nothing when the fruit is shared by 1.3 billion people’- Wen Jiabao, the Premier.
The One-child policy is a population control measure adopted by China. Under this policy Han (the main race in China) couples are allowed to have one child only in the Chinese mainland, excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Obviously the first controversy regarding this law is the issue of human rights – the policy is enforced, not advisory. This leads to a moral debate on whether people should be allowed to give birth. In addition, boys are important according to traditional Chinese values because they bear and pass on the family’s surname to the next generation. Therefore, baby girls are increasingly abandoned.
The ‘4-2-1’ syndrome is another issue unsettling Chinese society. It represents the family tree after the implementation of the one-child policy: 4 Grandparents, 2 Parents and 1 Child. It is an inverted triangle with a serious aging problem. Taking care of the elderly is a vital part of Chinese culture, and has always been stressed as such. Yet it is absurd to say that a low-income factory worker will be able to provide for 7 people. This is something expected of him as Chinese tradition demands that children, once grown up, should take care of their parents and even grandparents and should provide for them. However, as it is becoming harder and harder to do so children tend to become inconsiderate and rude. Without the presence of any siblings, all the love and attention is given to just one kid at home; people often mock these spoiled children as ‘little emperors’.
One more negative effect of the population structure is the resulting imbalance in the “sex ratio”. As mentioned, many families raise a boy instead of a girl; consequently, in mainland China there are many more males then females. It is to be expected that in the coming years there will be a severe shortage of wives, and subsequently, families! This may lead to serious social unrest.
Despite these apparent risks, why is the Government still adamant on continuing with the policy?
In the past, human resource has always been very important for agricultural states like China, but as industrialization takes place, China -a developing country- is bearing a heavy burden. More resources are being spent on her ever-increasing population at the expense of social structures. For example, if money is allocated to education and health care for the enormous number of children, there will be little investment left for economic development. The fact is that as long as living standards don’t improve, people would not change their minds and lifestyles to have fewer children. A vicious socio-economic cycle is hence created: More children => more resources consumed by larger population=> less money invested in economy => economically backward => Birth rates increase in a developing country => more children…
As time goes on, resources will be depleted at a faster and faster pace which will soon become unsustainable. The reality is that resources will be insufficient to feed everyone if population increases without intervention. The longer the cycle lasts, the more dangerous it will be to the society and the environment. A developed country naturally has a low birth rate, but before achieving that point China needs to break the vicious loop i.e. using compulsory birth planning to alleviate the problem. Other methods such as increasing women’s literary rate work too, but they are indeed impossible to carry out effectively within a few years in a gigantic and poor place like China.
In conclusion, it can therefore be said that the one-child policy is perhaps a necessary evil in China’s road to modernization; an evil in the present time but a necessity for her long term survival and progress.
– United World College Student Magazine –
How important is the population problem in the eyes of Chinese leaders?
Any small problems will become a huge disaster when multiplied by 1.3 billion, any significant achievements will become merely nothing when the fruit is shared by 1.3 billion people’- Wen Jiabao, the Premier.
The one-child policy is a population control measure adopted by China; under which Han (the main race in China) couples are only allowed to have one child in mainland China (this excludes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan).
Obviously the first controversy regarding this law is its alleged violation of human rights as the policy is enforced rather than being advisory. This leads to a moral debate on whether people should have the right to choose to give birth. In addition, boys are important in old Chinese values because they bear and pass on the family’s surname to the next generation. This leads to abandonment or neglect of baby girls.