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China's One Child Policy

By Shae Mar 05, 2009 1717 Words
China’s One Child Policy

For centuries China has stood as a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and sciences. On the other hand, over the last decade it has gone downhill economically. A big factor for this massive downfall is the population of the country. China is overpopulated. At the dawn of this century there were about 426 million people living in China. Today the population is about 1.2 billion. About two-thirds of this 900 million-person increase was added within the last 50 years. The Mainland China alone contributes to at least twenty percent of the world's contribution. The Chinese government realized that something had to be done or they would never be able to prosper as a country. Not at the rate they were heading, that's for sure. They decided to set up a plan to reduce the population growth. They called it China's one-child policy. Almost immediately after this policy was enforced, new-borns became subject to infanticide. (The act of killing an infant.) This one-child policy has many pros and cons but also advocates a huge violation of human rights.

The one-child policy limits Chinese couples to bearing only one child. The policy was established by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979 to limit communist China’s population growth. Although, meant to be a “temporary measure,” it continues a quarter-century after its establishment. Fines, pressure of abortion, and even forced sterilization accompanied second or subsequent pregnancies. The one-child policy is now enforced at the provincial level, and enforcement varies. Many provinces and cities, such as Henan and Beijing permit that two “only child” parents may have two children. Also in most rural areas, families are allowed to have two children if their first one is disabled or female. However, Children born overseas are not counted under the policy if they do not obtain Chinese citizenship. Chinese citizens returning from another place may also have a second child. The Chinese tradition implied that there must be a boy among the children in order to continue the family. They felt that the males carried the name of their ancestors and they needed to carry the name for the next generation. Therefore, whenever a couple had a female child they reverted to infanticide. This way they had another chance at getting a boy. The gender ratio was very unbalanced and the infant mortality rate was horrible. Males were completely dominant in China. They did most of the work and were the head of the household. The one concept that the Chinese people are not considering is that in the future there will be far too many males and far too less females. Sure, the one-child policy will reduce the population growth rate, but it might lower it to a point where reproduction occurs very rarely.

China’s one-child policy is violating a huge portion of human rights. The policy includes bribery, coercion, forced sterilizations, forced abortion and even infanticide. Even though, the rule has been estimated to have reduced population growth in the country of 1.3 billion by as much as 300 million people over its first twenty years it still gives the government no right what-so-ever to strip people from their rights. There are other ways that a population-decrease policy could have been implemented, such as a child-spacing policy that limits how many children you can have per year or per two years. Sure, it may take a little longer to work, but then you don’t have the effects of a gender imbalance and people don’t have to resort to infanticide, abandonment, abortions, etc. The one-child policy is also has eugenic regulations. If a Chinese couple wants to marry, both partners have to be rigorously tested before doing so. If one spouse has an “unsatisfactory” physical or mental condition, ranging from dyslexia to schizophrenia, they are banned from marrying. The Chinese government claimed that the regulations were intended to “improve the quality of Chinese population.” No one should be allowed to tell you who you marry and why. It’s completely unethical. There is also the role that the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) that has played a big part in China’s one-child policy. The role of the UNFPA is to promote the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programs to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect. It’s believed that China is using the UNFPA’s funds to strap down any woman, against her will, in any trimester of pregnancy and abort her child by the government. This is why the United States pulled out of the UNFPA during the Reagan years, and former U.S. President George W. Bush referred to human rights abuse as his reasoning for discontinuing the United States $40 million payment to the UNFPA in early 2002. In early 2003 the U.S. State Department issued a press release stating that they would not continue to support UNFPA in its present form because it was believed that, coercive birth limitation practices were not being properly addressed. The U.S. government has stated that the right to “found a family” is protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This concludes my views that it is the right of the individual, not the state, to determine the number of children a family decides to have.

There is a very debatable pro and con analysis of the outcomes of China’s one-child policy. There is the impact of healthcare and childbearing attitudes; it is reported that the focus of China on population control helps provide a better health service for women and a reduction in the risks of death and injury associated with pregnancy. Attitudes towards child-bearing are also reported to have been affected by China’s one-child policy. Some people have accepted the policy and consider one child to be enough. Increased savings rate, economic growth and increased involvement of women in the labor force are also good outcomes of China’s one-child policy. The average Chinese household uses fewer resources, both in terms of time and money, and on children, which gives many Chinese more money to invest with. Also, since young Chinese can no longer rely on children to care for them in their old age, there is an impulse to save money for the future. The original intent of the one-child policy was economic, to reduce the demand of natural resources, maintaining a steady labor rate, reducing unemployment caused from surplus labour, and reducing the rate of exploitation which China had definitely succeeded to do so. Women have traditionally been the primary caregivers for children; however, with fewer children, they have more time to invest in their careers, increasing both their personal earnings and the national GDP (Gross domestic product - The total market value of all the goods and services produced within the borders of a nation during a specified period.) There are many measures of environmental impact; one commonly used is the ecological footprint (something which has permanently damaged or had a negative impression the environment; the impact of humans on ecosystems created by their overuse of land, water, and other natural resources.) of each person in many countries. Generally as a country's economy grows so does its ecological footprint. China's one child policy has the indirect consequence of reducing China's total ecological footprint and thus reducing strain on ecological resources resulting in decreased environmental impact. Then, you have to consider all the cons that come out of this situation as well. There is the fact that other policy alternatives were available as I’ve already mentioned. You also have human rights violations, the four-two-one problem, and side effects on the female population, inequality in gender, and abandoned murder or orphaned children. The one-child policy is challenged in principle and in practice for violating human rights. As I’ve already said, reported abuses in its enforcement include bribery, coercion, forced sterilization, forced abortion, and infanticide. As the one-child policy begins to near its next generation, one adult child is left with having to provide support for his or her two parents and four grandparents. This leaves the older generation with more of a dependency on retirement funds or charity in order to have support. If personal savings, pensions, or state welfare should fail, then the most senior citizens would be left dependent upon their very small family or neighbors for help. China has a long tradition of son preference. The reasoning for it is that sons in rural families they may be thought to be more helpful in farm work. Both rural and urban populations have economic and traditional incentives, including widespread remnants of Confucianism, to prefer sons over daughters. The gender ratio at birth (between male and female births) in China reached 117:100 in the year 2000, considerably higher than the natural baseline, which ranges between 103:100 and 107:100. The social pressure put out by the one-child policy has affected the rate at which parents abandon unwanted children (females), and many live in state-sponsored orphanages, from which thousands are adopted internationally and by Chinese parents each year.

China's one-child policy has brought on so many problems, that one needs to wonder if it was actually a good idea in the first place. Sure, it lowered the population growth rate tremendously, but the number of infant deaths took over. Women in China are forced to give up their babies and are sometimes beaten. Males are still the dominant gender and have the power of the family name behind them. And the government will continue to take away civil rights. Tradition will always live in China, and a male child will always be a necessity. The family name must be carried on and the only way to do this is through a male

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