Controversy over Chinese child policy

Most people learn about China’s one-child-only policy in a history class in high school. The policy was implemented in 1979 to prevent overpopulation and allowed urban Chinese couples to only have one child, with the exception of twins and couples who were both only children. This does exclude rural couples and ethnic minorities.

While I understand why the policy was implemented, I don’t understand why it is still in place in 2013. Some people agree. Last year, a government think tank was established to go over the policy and come up with ideas of what to do about it. The group urged the country’s leaders to start phasing out the policy and allow two children for every family by 2015. At the end of January, China quelled the rumors that this would happen and instead said that family planning laws will remain, according to an NBCnews.com article.

Maybe it’s because we live in a country with more freedoms, but that just sounds crazy to us Americans. As the middle child out of five kids, I find the thought of being forced to only have one child absurd. Children are a blessing, and choosing how many of them to have should be a decision that is up to the parents. Personally, I love kids and will have more than one if I can. To tell a woman she can’t make that decision for herself is crazy. It reminds me of an issue we had a few months ago with a certain political figure trying to tell women what was best for them. But I digress.

There are many problems with this policy. Critics of the policy say it creates an unbalanced population. Last year, China’s workforce dropped by three million people, according to an article in the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, Utah. If the workforce keeps dropping like this, it will not be able to support the aging population.

The policy also creates an imbalance of genders. The same Deseret News article states that a preference for sons has created an extra 41 million boys thus far. There are 120 boys to every 100 girls born. Sex-selective abortions are technically illegal in China, but that doesn’t stop many people.

The strict limits have led to voluntary, and even forced, abortions. In June 2012, the world learned the story of Feng Jiamei, a 22-year-old who was seven months pregnant with her second child. According to reports, she was the victim of a forced abortion because she did not have enough money to pay the hefty fine for having a second child.  Seven people, some of them family planning officials, took her to a hospital and aborted her baby. The story, and subsequent photos, was graphic and alarming and made a drastic statement about China’s child policy.

More recently, a 13-month-old baby was crushed by a car containing Chinese officials who had been out to the family’s house to collect a similar second-child fine. While the details are not clear on how exactly the baby died under the car, the story only fuels critics of the policy.

I read the story last year about how the government think tank was established to go over the policy. I thought, “Hey finally someone is going to knock some sense into them, and they will change things.” I am sad to learn that is not so. When there is so much controversy and criticism, why can’t a government make the necessary changes? I think it is about time they did.

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