.: Opinions

Date: 19 Jul 2011



The One Child Policy and its implications in China

BY: Sumera Reshi

With the implementation of the ‘One Child Policy’, China wanted to control its spiralling population growth in order to contribute to its bursting economic development which it witnesses currently. Today China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has crossed 13 per cent of its mark, but this economic development achieved after two and half decade’s old population control policy had has its ripple effects and hasn’t done all good to republic of China. The problem to ponder over is to see the ill effects of the ‘One Child Policy’ propounded by the Chinese policy makers to achieve economic wellbeing for its huge middle class.

Analysts believe that the China’s quest to climb economic ladder at the heck of cutting its population growth has certain costs associated with it. A larger chunk of Chinese population comprises elderly people today; China has a disproportionately high number of male births due to selective sex abortion and increased female infanticide rates.

Furthermore, the repercussions of the ‘One Child Policy’ are that the child mortality rates have increased over time, accompanied by the collapse of a credible government birth reporting system. The implementation of the One Child Policy in early 80’s also marked a bizarre era, where China saw disproportionate sex ratio. The era of the One Child Policy initiated the phenomenon of missing girls in China. The ratio was 105 to 106 boys per 100 girls for live births within the plan ("The Missing Girls of China: A New Demographic Account," Population and Development Review, 17: 1 [March 1991], pp. 40-41).

Also, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Committee report for the Western Pacific in September 1997 claimed that more than 50 million women were estimated to be missing alone in China because of the institutionalized killing and the neglect of fairer sex due to Beijing’s population control program that limited parents to have just one child (Western Journalism Center/FreeRepublic, September 29, 1997.)
Years of population engineering, which included implicit slaughter of superfluous baby girls has truly created an imbalance in China’s male and female populations. As stated by Jonathan Manthorpe in a study by (the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 1999), the imbalance between the sexes is now so distorted that there are 111 million men in China, which is more than three times the population of Canada, and they will not be able to find a wife or a match in near future. This is not the end, the consequences of the One Child Policy has increased manifold over time. As a result, the cases of kidnapping and slave trading of women in China has intensified since 90’s.

There are not exact figures which could support the argument, but going through the report carried out by the Vancouver Sun, January 11, 1999, the thirst for women is so acute that the slave trade gangs are even reaching outside China to find markets. Northern Vietnam is said to be strongest merchandise for slave trade. This region feeds the rising demand in China for wives. And the credit for such a demand goes to Chinese establishment. They have become surplus in other commodities, yet have fallen short of a pivotal human resource, called eve’s daughters.

Since the inception of the One Child Policy, it has been highly controversial per se. Proponents of this policy argue that without this policy, it was unlikely for China to raise its per capita income so timely so soon. They also believe that uncontrollable population growth if could have been allowed to continue without putting curbs in the form of the One Child Policy might have lead to population explosion and would have caused a major challenge to already extinct natural resources. They maintain that due to this policy put in action by the Chinese government, its rising population might have brought irreparable harm to the natural resources and environment beyond imagination.
Quite the reverse, opponents of this policy indicate that a good amount of fertility decline had been achieved by the late 70’s and there was no need of this policy. The opponents warn about the dire implications of such an unparalleled policy. They maintain that the One Child Policy has lead to human rights violations, especially regarding women and the forceful alteration of China’s traditional family structure, an imbalance in sex ratio and a rapidly growing number of elderly people. They attribute all this menace to the One Child Policy (Can China afford to continue its One Child Policy, Weng Feng, East-West Center).

The architects of this controversial policy had once upon a time agreed that the policy should not be continued for longer or forever. At the very onset, they predicted at that time and in just thirty years, when the current critically grave population over growth be controlled, a different policy would be implemented instead. However, in view of the present chaos in China, time is ripe to explore another policy in place of this controversial policy which has brought havoc to the very fabric of Chinese traditional familial structure accompanied by other malefic effects unbearable anymore to rural Chinese populace.
No doubt China’s spectacular economic growth has amplified its per capita income since past two decades and has raised living standard of an ordinary Chinese, nonetheless China’s fertility rate has dropped to a lowest level among other nations. Keeping this scenario in view, many argue today that a change that allows couples to go for two children will not lead to uncontrollable population growth anymore, rather it could help meet the fertility decline, avoid worsening demographic and social implications already in view. Furthermore, the curbs puts in the disguise of this policy if abolished would also relieve Chinese establishment of the financial overburden spent on enforcing the policy since 80’s.
But the change should be speedy and imminent, if China wishes well to its citizens and if its authorities want to prevent any further negative aspects of the controversial One Child Policy in future, then eves daughters can again see the light of the day in might China.

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