China’s ‘One Child’ rule
September 17, 2004
Filed under Archives
As I looked through my pictures from my three-week trip to China this summer, I was struck by how none of the shots conveyed the mass of people found everywhere.
The country didn’t seem much more populated than any other large city in Europe or America. Only when I watched my videos did the magnitude of the population become apparent. Most notably, I have several videos of a tranquil garden. With the sound off, the scene looks quite peaceful. When I turned the sound on, I could have been in the middle of a huge carnival.
Even with a one-child per family birth policy, China has the largest population of any country in the world. China’s ambitious plan to curb its population growth has led to several positive changes, such as increased social and economic liberation for females and greater opportunity for each child.
However, in some ways the plan has resulted in an emphasis on male superiority, as many families prefer a boy as their one child.
China’s one-child policy can continue to benefit its people as long as officials raise awareness of the peril of largely shunning female children.
China passed its one-child policy in 1979 in an effort to control its burgeoning population. Control is stringent, with heavy fines for excess children.
The intra-uterine (IUD) device is the birth control of choice among Chinese women, although there is also a high occurrence of abortion. In the early 1990s China passed a measure that allows women to get an abortion without their husband’s signature. This has resulted in far fewer marriages of convenience, with women free to pursue relationships without the expectation of marriage should an unwanted pregnancy occur.
However, AIDS is on the rise in China because of a lack of education about the disease and ways to protect the body. There is a disturbing lack of money spent on public health concerns, although the government has occasionally sponsored condom-awareness campaigns in the last couple of years.
With increased education about safe birth control methods, both men and women will be able to experience greater sexual freedom.
Married couples also experience greater prosperity with the one-child policy. It has been economically liberating for women, who can now leave the home to work after their child goes to school.
This increases the combined household income, which has resulted in China’s status as the fastest-growing country in the world.
With only one child, parents are now more likely to be able to afford to send their child to college.
Education is so expensive that many parents would not be able to afford sending more than one child through school, so the one-child policy ensures that each child has greater educational opportunities. I spoke with several Chinese college students this summer who told me that they would not have had higher education with other children in the household. The increase in the number of educated people will further China’s prosperity.
The major disadvantage of China’s one-child policy stems from their society’s unequal gender statuses. Men enjoy a higher rank than women resulting in better pay and more opportunities. Because Chinese sons are expected to care for their parents in old age, parents would rather have a son than a daughter. This has resulted in thousands of female babies given up for adoption or aborted.
Recently, the Beijing Health Authority enacted a set of policies aimed at preventing medical facilities from performing tests to determine a baby’s gender before its birth for non-medical reasons. It appears that officials are aware of the disadvantages female children have and are working to improve their situation.
With the largest population in the world, Chinese officials are to be applauded for regulating births. However, they should continue to educate people about the dangers of unprotected sex and work for gender equality.
During three weeks in China, I garnered countless observations of the relationship between women, men, and children. Chinese children are the best-behaved children I have ever seen. Parents cherish each child. They are almost never seen in a stroller, but rather, held in parents’ arms.
Chinese parents understand that improving their children’s lives enhances the overall future of the entire country, and so they work to give them every opportunity for success that they can. It would be heartening to see the same amount of concern given to the children of America.