Fines. Forced sterilizations. Forced abortions. Infanticide. Abandoned children. These are just some of the things that have occurred in China due to the country’s now-terminated one-child policy. Not only is China’s gender ratio unbalanced, but its demographic transition model would be upside-down and incredibly disproportionate if people were to continue to only have one child.
This topic is one worth learning about because many citizens of China were mistreated if they violated the law. Countless Chinese children struggled growing up because they had to remain undocumented to make sure government officials did not find out their parents had had a second child. Millions of men will end up unmarried. The country lost about 5 million people from its workforce every year. Numerous women were forced to have an abortion.
Throughout the entirety of this essay, the history of the policy, stories of people who were affected by the policy, the consequences of violating the policy, and its effects will be discussed. While the policy has done what it was put in place for, it has also deeply affected the lives of many of China’s citizens.During the 20th century, the Chinese government realized something needed to happen to slow the country’s population.
The promotion of family planning and birth control began, but all efforts to slow population growth remained discretionary. However, it soon became noticed that something more was needed to ensure population growth did not outpace economic development. There were about 970 million people living in China at this time, and resource challenges were being caused by the rapidly growing population. Because of this, a one-child policy was introduced in 1979. On September 25, 1980, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party published a letter enforcing the new policy. The policy was slowly relaxed in 2015 when more couples fitting certain standards were permitted to have a second child. It was announced that the policy would end on October 29, 2015, and the termination of the one-child policy went into effect in January of 2016.
There was a growing proportion of elderly people, and not enough people would be entering the workforce to support the older citizens once they retired. Because of the policy, China’s fertility rate has declined, and the sex ratio is unbalanced. There are now around 118 men to every 100 women, meaning millions of men will not be able to find wives in China.Some exceptions were made for couples that, for example, were both only children, were members of ethnic minorities, or whose firstborn was handicapped.
Those people were able to have more children. For people that did not meet that criteria, the policy was not one to be taken lightly. Contraception was made widely available for those willing to adhere to the policy, and financial incentives, better employment opportunities, higher wages, and government assistance were offered.
Those who did not comply, however, could be subjected to forced sterilizations, forced abortions, or fines, and lose their jobs. People living in rural areas were more likely to disobey the policy than people living in urban areas for multiple reasons. Most of the population in urban areas were made up of smaller families that were more willing to obey the policy, whereas families in rural areas were typically larger. People living in the countryside may have needed to have more children to help them maintain and tend to their land. Some village family-planning officials had even charted the pelvic-exam results and menstrual cycles of all of the women in their area to make sure they had not violated the one-child policy.
Wealthier citizens, however, were able to escape the wrath and restrictions of the policy by paying a “social compensation fee” of up to 10 times the amount of a household’s annual income, or by travelling to countries such as the United States, Hong Kong, or Singapore to give birth.Though the policy did end, there are many irreversible events that occurred that will continue to have an impact on the citizens of China’s lives: (1) One woman in China was eight months pregnant when she was dragged to a clinic, bound to a surgical table, and had a lethal drug injected into her abdomen because she was unable to pay the ¥20,000 fine for getting pregnant with her second child. She stayed with her hands and feet bound to the table for two days until a doctor finally yanked her murdered child out by its foot, and proceeded to drop it into a garbage can. The lady did not have the money to pay for a cab, so she had to stagger home with blood dripping down her leg; (2) Male children were usually preferred, so many sex-selective abortions occurred because couples wanted to make sure their one child would be a boy. Little girls were abandoned, placed in orphanages, and sometimes even killed when they were infants; (3) According to the data released by the Chinese Health Ministry in March of 2013, approximately 336 million abortions and 222 million sterilizations have been carried out in China since the early 1970s; (3) Around 13 million Chinese people are unregistered because of the one-child policy and of citizens’ violations of the family-planning regulations. Many of those unregistered people were unable to do things such as attend school and receive a proper education, and get a passport, while their parents may have been forced out of work, fined, etc.
It would be nice to say that so many people were affected by the population policy if it were for a good cause. However, the policy has been described as futile by many; China’s birth rate had already been declining when the policy was first introduced in 1979. The events that occurred in that time period and location were absolutely horrible. I understand that China deemed it necessary to keep the population under control, but I definitely think the bad outweighed the good in this situation.I have learned so much from researching this important subject.
Even though it did not really directly affect me, I have started to look at my life with a new perspective. As Americans, it can be easy to take many things for granted. I feel that even though our government has its faults, we should still be grateful for it. Luckily, our government does not get too involved with the personal lives of the citizens of the US.
We do not have to go through the trials and tribulations that those in China may have had to go through. If someone decides that they want a large family, our government will not intervene. There were so many talented, special children that could have been born to loving couples in China, but the government decided to step in and prevent them from being born. I do not believe that the government should be able to make the decision on whether or not someone has an abortion or gets sterilized.
I am grateful that I and all of the wonderful people I have met in my few short years in this world did not suffer the same fate as those Chinese children that were forcibly aborted, abandoned, and even murdered.