Thomas F. O'Neill
From China with love
My mind drew a blank when I sat down at my computer to write this column. But I learned early on that it is best to write about what you know. Since I am living in China I thought I would once again write about what I know about China.
I have been living in this very large country for over three months now and I am still pretty much assimilating the culture. The first thing I noticed when I arrived here is the number of people hustling and bustling on the main freeways. The blowing of horns at times can also be unsettling.
If you are brave enough to take the public transit here. You will find the buses and trains jammed packed with people standing right up against you. Saying you feel like, ‘a sardine in a can’ is an understatement.
I mentioned in previous columns that there are approximately 1.4 Billion Chinese people here in this heavily populated country.
I also noticed that for greenhorn foreigners like myself just getting on an elevator can be quite an experience. For instance, if too many people get on at the same time a little alarm goes off and the elevator door remains open.
The door remains open until a dozen or so people step out to reduce the elevators weight capacity. The majority of the time, you are crammed up against other people in that little square box. You feel there are more people entering the elevator than getting off. When waves of people cram in against you it can be unnerving. It’s almost as if they are trying to see just how many people they can squeeze inside that little hydraulic lift before the little alarm bell goes off.
On a brighter note, my students and I have been having discussions about China’s one child policy. My elevator experiences and my experiences riding public transit did not inspire these discussions. But my students to my delight are mostly for the one child policy. The policy has been in effect here since 1979. Some people are against it because they would like to have two children. If a Chinese couple has more than one child the Government will impose a large fine on them. But if you are a privileged Chinese couple with a substantial amount of money you can have more than one child and pay the fine.
Other Asian countries that are well developed like Japan and South Korea do not have a one child policy. They already understand the benefits of raising a single child. It is more cost effective in any country to raise a single child. A one child couple can care for their child’s needs better by providing them with more love and attention. They can also provide their child with better educational opportunities.
A major problem China is going to face though in the very near future is a higher elderly population. Over seventy percent of the population in China is going to consist of Senior Citizens. The Chinese traditionally had large families so that their children could support them in their old age. That is no longer the case and a single child may be faced with caring for two elderly parents. Many of my students feel that burden should not be bestowed upon them.
The policy may not be perfect. There are certainly many draw backs to a one child policy but it is understandable due to China’s over population, why such a policy was put in place. Since the one child policy has been in effect, the country has seen substantial economic growth.
The economic growth also shows no signs of slowing down. China is developing rapidly but it still has a long way to go on the global market. Maybe in twenty years China’s economy will be at par with Japan and South Korea.
Until that time comes when China is an economic superpower, I will continue to enjoy the warm friendly people here with their rich culture. Their vast array of delicious foods, and their abundant fruit juices I will also enjoy.
Now, if I could just learn the Chinese language…….
Always With love,
Thomas F. O’Neill
Yahoo Screen Name for chatting online: introspective777
Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by
Thomas F. O'Neill can be found at the links below.
Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs