So long! the infamous One Child Policy!
It’s been over 30 years, it’s about time to put you in history of “the dark section”. Tonight when I was deeply disturbed by some very serious philosophical questions and started to get some type of headache from thinking, I decided to distract myself from the trap and read some updated news (my habit is read Chinese news and English news at the same time and compare their different angles and attitudes in new-reporting). Then I found this:
I guess to most readers, I need to interpret what it says in that piece of news (you could porbably try to read the funny version from Google translator). Basically, the title says: “Guangdong Province is now applying for a two children pilot policy, and it’s a sign for the loose of the national One Child Policy in China”. The new policy adjustment in Guangdong, the most populous and economically viable province in China, the richest and the foremost locomotive of Chinese economy, applies for the change to allow couples to have two children, provided that either one of the couple is the only child in his/her family. This news article also pointed out the significantly adverse side-effects of one child policy in China’s demographics (mostly the rapid ageing of the population, the destruction of the nuclear family system and value in China and so on), as well as the currently ultra-low natural population growth rate in China. It is even predicted that there will be a nation-wide lift of the one-child-policy ban somewhere between 2011 and 2015.
This is indeed very good news for China. Little known to the West, the One Child Policy mostly imposes strict one-child ban on the urban population; whereas in the rural area even for Han Chinese the central government usually looses the policy to 2 or 3 kids at maximum. Instead of those obvious and publicly-recognized criticisms, what I see the greatest damage of one child policy is that it largely limits the reproduction of the well-off and well-educated working class in the city, while remain relatively ineffective in deterring the ultra-rich people (who would rather go to Hong Kong or fly to western countries to have more children) and poor, under-educated rural population (who are usually subject to have two or three kids), and barbaric tribal minorities (e.g. Muslim Uighur in Xinjiang Province usually have 5~7 children per couple, as minorities benefited from governmental minority benefit policy, that is, much loose restrictions (virtually no restriction on Uighurs and Tibetans e.g.)) from having as many kids as they want. The concept of this policy is rather twisted in this logic. And it is. As far as I understand when this policy was made 30 years ago those policy-makers did not really take much long-term demographic and social impacts for the future generation into account, as it was simply unable to imagine at that time(in 1970s there’s big population boom in China). Here is the original logic for one child policy: The objectives of the one child policy is to reach the target, that is to limit the Chinese population, in the most effective and efficient way, that is to use regulations and laws to disallow the freedom of people in deciding how many kids they want. This is typical pragmatical philosophy that has etched in every Chinese’s mentality (and only could happen in East Asian countries). Aside from enormous benefits from pragmatism, the biggest side-effect and trade off from pragmatism is that it encourages impetuousness in social behaviors and consequentially the decision-making process. This means that when a complicated social-political decision was made in this logic (that is, engineer’s logic, to use the most efficient way to reach the goal), there is a high level of risk that the decision would be made inconsiderately with large unexpected side-effects emerged in practice, such is the case with the One Child Policy. The original thought of this policy is to last for two generations, it seems now the policy is going be revoked much sooner than they expected 30 years ago.
True that One Child Policy did curb the population boom in China and ease a lot of unnecessary social pressure for China and even the whole humanity, but the damage it has imposed on China is also undeniable. I hate when anti-Chinese people on one side decry the inhumanity of the one child policy ban in China and on the other side openly sneer at Chinese rapid ageing crisis, sexual imbalance, loss of family value from the implementation of the One Child Policy, and predict the final collapse of China based on that. Rationally I pretty much understand their fear towards the rise of China, I don’t hate that. What I hate is the fact that what they are sneering at, the huge social/demographic/economic adverse effects from the practice of the one child policy, is indeed one of the biggest inhibitors against the further sustainable growth of China in the future. I hate that they are right about that point. But right now, it seems like the Chinese has finally got an epiphany to untwist ourselves. As long as we get rid of this ban, I am sure the demographic problems in China is going to be mitigated and neutralized in the medium and long run (in short term China is going to pay back from the adverse inertia of one child policy anyway). So here comes the hope again. I essentially hope the Chinese elite ruling class take this one child policy as a very costly lesson to not make the same mistakes in steering China again. At the end of day, I don’t see the point of following the Western liberalism/leftism self-twisted and self-denial path in China. As much as a pragmatist concern, there’s always ways to make things better and make things right. As for me, now I could finally toss away my prejudice against those fear and resentment against China (though I have been a hard-core critic of contemporary China myself, but merely culture and mentality wise since I am pro-Chinese classicism). Good news for me!