» 09/25/2010, 00.00
The "success" and failure of the one-child law
The infamous law is 30 years old. It has stopped the birth of at least 400 million children. It is a source of violence, abortions, forced sterilizations, injustice. And it is revealing its problems: an aging population, lack of manpower, imbalance between males and females.
Rome (AsiaNews) – China’s one-child law is now marking its 30th anniversary. It was instituted at the same time as Deng Xiaoping’s four modernizations that have allowed the country to make giant leaps in economic development. According to Party leaders, control over the population is another of China’s "successes" and it is heralded as such at all international conferences.
The one-child law has indeed blocked the birth of 400 million children and has allowed a greater enrichment of families, a reduction of government expenditure on health and housing, to plan for a future with fewer unknown factors. Yet, increasingly, there are voices in China that define the one-child law a failure that is now showing its cracks.
The law prohibits couples from having more than one child (farming families or ethnic minorities may have two if the first is female) and those who violate the ban are punished with severe fines and discrimination in the workplace. Thanks to a wide organizational network that relies on the controlling powers of over 80 million employees, an annual quota for new births is set for each province, city and village. To meet the set quota officials from the Office for population control resort to forced abortions (even in the ninth month), sterilizations of women and men, huge fines of up to one or two years annual wages for those who have a second child. The history of contemporary China is full of terrible stories of newborn children suffocated because they fall outside the quota; of parents tortured because they are unable to pay the fine, the abduction of women to force them to undergo sterilization.
The Chinese government defends itself by saying that it now "persuades" citizens not to have more than one child, with economic incentives and that the law is no longer imposed by force. But news reports refute this. Only a month ago AsiaNews published the story of a 23 year-old woman, Li Hongmei, who was kidnapped and taken to hospital for a forced sterilization. Her crime was to have had a child outside the quotas. According to China Daily, almost every year in China - and this is a conservative estimate - at least 13 million abortions occur, all from contraception. Chai Ling, the heroine of Tiananmen Square, now a refugee in the U.S. who has become Christian, has defined the fruits of the one-child law as a daily "Tiananmen massacre".
Added to this is another evil consequence of the law: the preference for male children - especially for farmers - which often leads parents to practice selective abortion of female foetuses. The World Health Organisation has calculated that in the 1980’s at least 20 million women disappeared from China, reversing the proportion of males to females, with the result that a new business has been born: trade in child-brides, the abduction and selling of young girls and women etc.. There is even a trade in women from North Korea, who are marketed in China to sate the sexual desires and dreams of marriage of local men.
The fact that the one child law is a slow suicide of the population is now obvious to many: it has begun to undermine China’s economic growth. Firstly, because the population is aging rapidly. According to the Minister for Labour and Social Security, by 2030 23% of the population will be over 60. That means 351 million new pensioners, which will weigh heavily on state coffers. Consequently, the percentage of citizens depending on the remaining labour force will increase. Currently, the ratio is about 3 workers for one pensioner; in 20 years, it will be 2 to 1, in 1975 the ratio was 7.7 to 1.
But there are also problems for the workforce, which in a country of 1 billion 300 million people will start to run low. So far, China's development has been based on armies of young people from the countryside, ready to work for a few Euros a month. But now young people are scarce and factories are struggling to find workers. This is felt especially in the "golden belt" of Guangdong Province (the most industrialized) and in rich Shanghai. Precisely for this reason the deputies of Guangzhou and Shanghai continue to seek to change the law to allow couples to have at least two children.
Some, as of yet unconfirmed, rumours suggest the government wants to launch a pilot project in five provinces of removing the law to study the effects. So far, however, Beijing has always responded to the claims of scientists and demographers by extolling the success of having denied life to 400 million people.
China, damage of one-child law points to "risk of collapse"
The government presents a survey (pending the national census data) that shows an increase in population since 2010. But experts warn: "These are older people, not newborns. The one-child rule - an "hourly Tiananmen” - threatens to destroy social stability.
Young Chinese mother kidnapped and sterilized to enforce one-child law
The woman disappeared on 15 July and was subjected to forced sterilization. Because of the operation she is still in hospital. Her mother, who reported her missing child, was arrested for 10 days. The damage of the one child law.
Catholic hospitals in Kerala recanalise sterilized women
This move could cost 10 thousand rupees (around 180euro). The Church is worried about the anti-birth campaign run by the government and about the decrease in the Catholic population. The state wants to penalise those who have more than two children with fines, esclusion from schools and medical cure.
Beijing using violence to enforce its one child policy
More and more people complain that public officials are persecuting those who have "illegal" children. The government celebrates good results, but experts are critical of official figures, which are said to underestimate the real situation.
China’s one-child policy is state violence against women and children
Although occasionally “tweaked,” the infamous law has not been eliminated and is having disastrous demographic consequences: labor shortages, an aging population, a skewed sex ration between men and women, women trafficking and sexual slavery. However, the government is not going to repeal it because it helps it control the population. The Party “is maintaining its grip on power by shedding the blood of the innocent women and babies of China,” said Reggie Littlejohn in her testimony before the Congressional Executive Commission on China.
Pope Francis tells young people that “genuine love” is not a “soap opera”, but Christians’ real identity card
In his homily for the Jubilee of Teens, Pope Francis asked questions and gave answers to the 70,000 present. Stressing the great ideal of love as giving oneself “without being possessive”, he noted that freedom is “being able to choose the good”. He warned young people “who dare not dream,” telling them that “If you do not dream at your age, you are already ready for retirement”. He also received funds raised for the Ukraine, and appealed for the release of bishops and the priests held in Syria.
Odd alliance between the US and Iranian fundamentalists
Washington is still preventing the use of US dollars in transactions with Iranian banks, preventing business with the outside world in spite of the nuclear deal. This way, the US is helping Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards, who want to torpedo the agreement in order to maintain their hold on power. Meanwhile, most Iranians hold down two or three jobs just to make ends meet. An unstable and bellicose Iran is a boon for arms sales. A report follows.
26/04/2016 SYRIA - TURKEY
25/04/2016 HONG KONG - CHINA
29/04/2016 NORTH KOREA- USA
AsiaNews IS ALSO A MONTHLY!
AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.