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Recent media reports have paid extensive attention to the intensifying Chinese population and the varied steps the nation is taking towards its containment. This is in the backdrop of growing concerns over the suggestions that the global population is nearing the seven billion-mark. As the figure prolongs to grow, it persists in evoking fear in a number of the global leaders. Reportedly, the present Chinese population is approximately a third of the global population, and it occupies a dismal one fifth of the inhabitable sections of the planet. Over the past decades, the Chinese authorities have initiated plausible steps towards the containment of the outburst. It began with its “late, long and few” policy to the presently controversial ‘one child’ policy.
China has enjoyed excellent achievements in restraining its population explosion. However, with these successes, the ideologies employed in achieving them have crowded several debates, both within and outside China. In light of this, two factions have emerged, one challenging the techniques used with its proponents agreeing that strategies were best suited for the Chinese societal set up. The latter faction cites the evidently excellent results as a testimony to the practicability of the guidelines. Similarly, the opponents table such reasons as the declining number of females is because of the new population statutes. This paper puts in to perspective the dissimilar aspects of this ongoing debate. The paper examines several arguments from the dissimilar factions as well as the present government stand on the policy.
Background of the Policy
Chow (7) agrees that with the availability of the improved health care in the 1950s, the Chinese population expanded incessantly over the succeeding decades. Several scholars agree that the huge population growth was the result of a peaceful coexistence following decades of the deadly confrontations couple with a mixture of misfortunes and natural calamities. The subsequent collapse of the imperial headship reinforced by the adoption of the contemporary medical practices extensively alleviated widespread death rates. Additionally, the expanded health care facilities improved life, thereby contributing to the incrementing growth rate. Chow (7) blames these factors for the addition of over 250 million individuals to the Chinese population by the turn of 1970.
Observably, the founding communist leadership initially favored this expansion citing several benefits. However, with the increasing need to provide the huge population, the government noted a substantial strain in meeting the demands of people. Chow (2007) suggests that the fourth year plan commencing in 1970 included, within its objectives, targets for the population expansion rates. The government devised several methodologies to combat the expanding population outburst. These included the introduction of abortion and contraceptive usage in both urban and remote localities. The initial policy of the delayed marriage, the extended intervals between successive births as well as the insistence on smaller family units came into action. Chow (7) reports that these guidelines decreased the population growth rate from 2.8% to an unbelievable 1.8%. The newer targets were set for the forthcoming fiscal expansion schedule with an anticipated target of 1% declared.
Nonetheless, the government noted towards the end of the fifth economic plan that the new target was unattainable with the then population guidelines. Chow (7) reports that there was a growing concern over the possibility of achieving the anticipated zero expansion rate by the then forthcoming turn of the millennium. Backed by the exemplary statistical analysis, the government noted that the then population mix could result in the unprecedented population outbursts. There was an urgent need for newer strategies to curb the focused population predicament. The institution of a newer policy came out of these concerns. Chow (7) observes that the one child policy aimed to achieve a population of about 1.2 billion by the turn of the millennium. The extreme measures accompanied the newer policies with the varied provinces tasked with formulating means of their implementation (Chow 7).
In the analysis of China’s one child policy, Christoph (36) observes that the implementation of the policy varied hugely from region to region and from urban and rural setups. Similarly, the application of the policy has varied with time. Notwithstanding these, the critical aim of the policy was to eliminate the possibility of subsequent births after the first birth. Christoph (36) reports that the anticipated difficulty reverting the culturally acceptable practice of numerous children made the government resort to the dissimilar strategies to realize the greater goal. Noticeably, the government utilized both financial and material incentives such as the preferential allocation of housing and the associated government services. Additionally, the government increasingly pegged access to school, health facilities as well as other numerous civil services to compliance with the population policy. Christoph (36) reports that there were stringent punitive measures applied to individuals who failed to comply with the new guidelines. These included unspecified financial punishments, stagnated government careers and inaccessibility to numerous government sponsored initiatives.
The government encountered the mixed reception in the earlier adoption of the new regulations. Christoph (36) reports that enormous towns, like Shanghai, immediately adopted the guidelines. The extensively practiced trends of smaller families within the bigger towns aided the implementation of these regulations. Furthermore, the unisex employment trend in the bigger town implied the smaller and planned families. This only acted to facilitate the implementation of the guidelines. Noticeably, rural areas with characteristic over dependence on the agricultural activities relied heavily in the bigger families for their labor force needs. Christoph (36) suggests that such over reliance on the family evoked substantial resistance to the new laws. Furthermore, the various provinces were empowered to devise dissimilar ways of implementing the laws. This ensured a considerable level of success that gave the distinct societal construct within the nation (Christoph 36).
The Varied Opinions on the One Child Policy
White (63) observes that the one child policy has endured considerable successes despite countless emerging discrediting faults. Noticeably, the policy has considerably achieved its desired objectives of restraining the feared rapid population intensification over the past decade. The guidelines have contributed to the reduction of the nation’s overall fertility rate. In Christoph (54), it is evident that the new guideline has ensured a reduction from five births per woman in 1970’s to 1.8 births per woman by 2008. Given these statistical indicators, it is obvious that the policy has significantly contributed to the overall decrease in the nation’s population expansion. Christoph (36) suggest that the Chinese population would have incremented by over 400 million on top of the presently reported 1.3 billion people without the new law.
Another noticeable development within China is its incessant economic expansion over the past three decades. This has resulted in the creation of a pool of the highly learned, skillful and hugely productive workforce within the nation. Christoph (62) cites the advantages of providing smaller populations with the right education and professional training facilities as the key factors in the realization of these developments. Additionally, the new pool of professionals is not only useful in the innovativeness evident in countless Chinese exports but also the stringent fiscal policies that has established the development. Furthermore, several international organizations and learning institutions agree that the policy has effectively addressed the acute issue of overpopulation and overconsumption through the reduction of the nation’s fertility rate.
Despite the said benefits of the policy, a number of scholars distance the successes in reducing the overall fertility rate from the one child policy. According to Christoph (71), the studies conducted in some international institutions observe that the ethical and cultural barriers encountered in the implementation of the policy were increasingly huge to realize the reported results. They blame the association of the drop in fertility with the one child policy as the communist propaganda aimed at justifying the barbaric acts that has accompanied the implementation of the policy in the past decades. Seemingly, while the implementations of the procedures were effective in the initial years, it has increasingly failed in the contemporary China. They suggest that this is evident in increasing susceptibility to western ideals in regards to the birth controls.
Furthermore, these opponents of the policy observe that the policy has only accounted to a dismal decrement in fertility rate citing the huge decrement before its institution. Christoph (71) cites research done by Yale University in 1988 that attributed the increasingly reducing fertility rate in the eventual adoption of a free marketplace economy. Reportedly, the newer fiscal incentives afforded the equal opportunities to both sexes, thereby limiting their capacity to give birth to numerous children (White, 82).
In the past few years, opponents of the new policy have mounted incessant criticism of the policy claiming that it was tolerant to extensive abuse of human rights. Some rejects the policy’s core principle as a disregard to universally acceptable code of the human conduct. Christoph (92) reports that proponents of the policy refute this claim citing the rigorous policing of the implementation procedures at all levels. However, despite these careful regulations, emerging media reports suggest that numerous instances of violent treatment of dissenters are taking place. Christoph (92) suggests that recurrent cases of forceful abortion, sterilization as well as infanticide proliferate within the nation.
The case of forceful abortion and sterilization has grabbed headlines across the nations in the past few years. Christoph (93) observes that analysts of the situation suggest that it is analogous to the genocidal acts. Reportedly, in an attempt to dispel credible opposition to its policies, the state officials at both regional and provincial levels continue to exercise extreme measures to ensure adherence to the national statutes. Christoph (93) reports that despite the official burn of enforced abortion in 2002, the local authorities still exercise these violent practices. I also oppose some certain aspects of the policy like that promoting the infant deaths immediately after births and while in the process of being given birth prolong to emerge. In light of this, I feel it is plausible that opponents of the policy have likened it to a cold-blooded murder and amounting to genocide.
The issue of infanticide is a reported consequence of the one child policy. The case of discriminatory killing of infants has increased over the past few decades. In his analysis, Christoph (96) reports that Chinese culture has always favored the boy child. This case is prevalent in rural areas where the boy child is an increasingly valuable asset. Further criticism has emerged from numerous other sources, and some principle global organizations have identified China’s one child policy as a critical cause of the prevalent infanticide cases (Christoph 96).
Coupled with the preference for boys, cases of undesirable births have continuously emerged. Christoph (96) reports that undesirable children have led to several cases of abandonments as well as criminal cases of murder. Over the past two decades, parents have continuously sent their children with defects as well as girls to the state run local orphanages. These local orphanages have the appalling living conditions and inaccessibility to appropriate medical services. I agree with Christoph’s (96) observation that these practices have led to the increased high mortality rates in infants. Furthermore, it has resulted in widespread adoption of Chinese girls over the past decades. However, while adoption provides these children with brighter prospect of succeeding in life, it continues to rid China of females to give birth the subsequent generation.
Christoph (96) proposes that the ongoing imbalance amid the sexes foretells a future within the Chinese society that could spell a future sociological predicament. While the present ratio of 100 girls for every 117 boys is close to the global rate of 103 boys to 100 girls, China presents a peculiar case. Christoph (96) observes that such ratios hugely magnify the disparity within the huge Chinese population. I feel there is a reason to worry as the recent reports by the Chinese authorities predict that by 2020, China shall have 30 million more men than women. Evidently, this will present a critical societal instability within the Chinese market. Emerging reports suggest that as the new generations age, it will become increasingly difficult to find suitable spouses. I agree with Christoph’s (96) suggestion that such disparities are most likely to instigate increased criminal acts against women.
Another critical consequence of the one child policy is the evident steadily aging Chinese population. Chow (121) observes that despite the present 5 million births than deaths within the country, the low fertility rate is predictably to result in individuals aged over sixty comprising slightly over 14% of the total populace by 2015. Empirically, while 14% is a negligible figure, the enormous Chinese population implies a considerable decrease in the active section of the Chinese population. Presently, there are dismal concerns about the possibility of such incidences.
However, as the population continues to age in the backdrop of fewer additions, the ratio of the elderly to those who are working will decrease significantly from 1:6 to 1:1 by 2040, (Chow 121). It is true that this presents a critical problem as it will affect other demographic structures. It is clear that this ratio will exacerbate the present dependency condition. A child will support both two parents and four grandparents. Evidently, this will present a considerable financial and emotional strain. Chow (121) observes that the present social security setup in China is poor and is most likely not to support the increasingly aging population. This leaves the young population with the sole responsibility of assisting the aging population.
Media Reports and Global response to the One Child Policy
It is clear that this policy has remained one of the very controversial issues in this country. Personally, I agree that the media have given the issue adequate attention enabling it to have a great influence on the issue. Initially China’s communist ideologies had been supporting an increasingly secretive nation with tight control over the access to mainstream global media outlets such as the social interactive sites. However, the consequences of the one child policy have been far reaching. For instance, the media reports have suggested that the ongoing economic expansion has resulted in a pool of the hugely ambitious, working and financial stable parents. Observably, the one child policy has culminated in a generation of extremely over indulged and spoilt children. Furthermore, there are developing fears that the next generation of adults may comprise spoilt and antisocial adults with appalling communication and teamwork skills (Chow 121).
Evidently, these children, nicknamed the little emperors by the media, will not sustain the economic developments, as they will become a lazy and deficient of the essential vision to sustain the present economic expansion. Similarly, Chow (121) reports that the contemporary Chinese parents were defining the respective careers they expected their children to pursue. They hugely control the life of their single child culminating into young adults pursuing disinteresting careers that do not inspire innovativeness.
The media continues to play a significant role in the edification about the consequences of the one child policy. Christoph (98) observes that over the past few years, the continued media reports have resulted in numerous debates criticizing the extent consequences of the policy. Following growing discomfort with the policy in several sections of the nation, the government burned the practices of forceful abortion in 2002 (Christoph 98). Over the years, it has equally relaxed its stance in villages by allowing the siring of two children. Obviously, this was in reaction to the increased reports of infanticide as well as the media reports suggesting that the practice was amounting to genocide of infants. Christoph (98) observes that minority groupings like the Tibet have a permission to have up to three children irrespective of their sexes. Given this reversal to the one child policy, it is evident that China is incessantly softening its stand on the one child policy. I believe that mounting pressure from the media and international trading partners as well as the admittance of the future consequences of the policy are responsible for this reversal.
Undeniably, the one child policy has proved an effective way of restraining the incessant population intensification in China. While pro and con arguments persist, it is commendable what the policy has achieved in regards to curtailing the initially high fertility rates in China. However, despite these historic achievements, the implementation of the policy as well as the core aims of the policy has elicited discrediting sentiments across the globe. Comparatively, it is evident that the modernity and the adoption of certain aspects of western capitalism have equally contributed to the results in regards to restraining the population intensification. Furthermore, there are evident contemporary methodologies that could excellently achieve similar results. The recent reports of flexibility in the implementation suggest that China is ultimately realizing the future consequences of the policy.