Thomas F. O'Neill
Most people in the U.S. have heard about China’s one-child policy and the majority of Americans disagree with how China is reducing their country’s population growth. In China, however, the majority understand the reason the policy was put in place.
There are over 1.3 Billion people living in China, today.
If the one-child policy was not put in place in 1979 there would possibly be a population of 1.7 or 1.8 Billion people in China. The majority of those people would most likely be living way below the poverty line.
The one-child policy was responsible for not only reducing the number of people being born but it was also a means of raising China’s standard of living. It also raised the number of Children graduating from High Schools and going on to higher learning in their country’s Universities.
Every semester I ask my new students at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School whether they have brothers or sisters. A good number of students do have siblings at home but those who don’t usually comment that they wish they had a brother or sister.
The wealthy in China can on the most part afford having more than one child. The fine they have to pay is usually looked upon by the wealthy, Chinese, as an additional tax. However, those who are impoverished are usually forced to put their additional children up for adoption. This is extremely painful for the child’s parents and the western media has covered some of these events that have stirred outrage from western Newspapers, the Internet, and various other western media outlets.
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress passed a resolution on Saturday, December 28th 2013 - If one of the child’s parents is an only child the couple is now allowed to have two children.
It is widely believed that the one-child policy, which started over three decades ago, has prevented over 400 million births. The policy has not only slowed down China’s rapid population growth but it also helped many families rise out of extreme poverty.
The one-child policy has also been highly criticized though for resulting in forced abortions, turning babies over to adoption agencies and for the hefty fines for the families who violated the policy.
Other critics of the one-child policy have argued that china’s rising elderly population will not have the support needed as they continue to grow into old age. The Chinese Government will be forced to invest many Billions of its hard currency into assisted living and nursing facilities to accommodate the elderly.
Critics have also argued openly in China’s newspapers that it doesn't matter whether the policy is a one-child or two-child policy the law still hurts China's elderly. They will no longer have the support of their children in old-age. The policy may constrain economic growth, say the critics, as the working-age population begins to decline.
The one-child policy has, however, benefited China and the easing of the policy does not mean China is ending its family planning.
Over the past twenty years or so China’s population growth has seen a drastic decline. Chinese women on average have given birth to 1.4 to 1.6 children. If this rate continues, by the end of this century, China will have far less people than it has now.
Supporters of the one-child policy say in the long run the population decline in China will result in a stronger and more stable economy.
Jiang Fan, a National People's Congress deputy and member of the NPC Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, made a statement to the Chinese media, on Sunday, December 29th 2013.
"China still has a large population. This has not changed. Many of our economic and social problems are rooted in this reality." He went on to say, "We cannot risk the population growing out of control." He also announced that the easing of the one-child policy is expected to go in effect sometime in the first quarter of 2014.
The easing of China’s one-child policy is something I plan on discussing with my students at the end of this semester in order to gauge their attitudes on the matter.
I have in the past asked my students to interview their grandparents or other elderly individuals about the changes they witnessed in china over the years. The results of their interviews are eye opening and educational for the students because many of them were unaware of their grandparents’ hardships, especially, when they were my students’ age. Some of my students have commented how grateful they are for what they have in life.
The one-child policy may have very well played a part in my students’ families’ upward mobility. Most of them would agree with me on that point as well and the easing of the one-child policy is a step in the right direction.
I always tell my students that China on the most part is progressing along for the better and like their parents and grandparents before them they too will see many more changes and improvements in their lifetime.
I always tell my students in class that the seeds to any great society are ultimately planted in the home and what the parents sow will ultimately be what they reap. Many of America’s problems are the result of bad parenting and no Government policy or school system can cure the ills that our country is facing.
America, however, is still a great nation it’s a beacon of light and hope for many to emulate and embrace. Our Nation’s greatness, however, was ultimately the result of personal freedoms and values that were passed down from generation to generation and we as a people should never lose sight of that fact. Those same values are also the cure to what is ailing our society but those values will never manifest until each individual takes responsibility for their own personal lives just as our ancestors have done when planting the seeds toward America’s greatness.
Many of my students plan on being parents and they understand the value of raising a child with the values they learned from their parents growing up. They are the human values that enhance our humanity and move humankind forward, hopefully, toward a brighter tomorrow for our overall global society.
But I suppose only time will tell …….
Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O’Neill
U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
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