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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

"One Child Policy" Coming Home to Roost


China's One child Policy"'In most of the countryside in China we have what we call one-and-a-half-child policy. That means if a young couple's first child is a male, they must stop child-bearing. If the child is a female they may have a second child,' he said. "

I have carried this story before about the demographic time bomb ticking away in China. According to projections there will be 20 million excess males in China by 2020 resulting in what will be the largest gender imbalance ever experienced in a sizeable nation.

This unheard of state of affairs can be directly traced to the "One Child policy" the Chinese introduced 25 years ago this year to curb population growth in the world's most populous country.

The result of this policy is that with modern sex determining techniques and birth control methods (read abortion) the Chinese people, particularly the poor rural people, are manipulating births to ensure that they have a boy child.

As the linked article infers as well, infant mortality among girl children is higher than among boys as families are prepared to invest less resources in keeping alive gravely ill girl children.

The reason for this is that in rural areas boy children are seen as both a source of cheap farm labour and as "superannuation policies" for parents in this social security challenged land.

What this will mean once the imbalance becomes significant no-one can precisely predict other than to sound general warnings of a potential dramatic rises in mental health problems and crime, particularly rape and child sex abuse.

I led this post with a quotation from the article by a population expert from People's University in Beijing Zhai Zhenwu which I found particularly intersting. Zhai claims there is an "unofficial child policy" in rural areas where if the first child is a girl than the authorities will look the other way if the couple were to have a second child.

The article does not mention it but the "one child policy" must be contributing to the current rural crisis of falling output and migration from the rural areas to cities.

Children, as a form of cheap rural labour, probably made the difference between much marginal farm holdings being economically viable or not. As this source of cheap labor dries up people are abandoning their holdings or productivity decreases through the inability of landholders to afford "market rate" labour.

Linked Article Read Rating: Worthwhile