Media Mashup: July 22, 2015

The parents of this young boy in Guangzhou, China, had to pay five times their annual salary to the government because the law only allowed one child at the time.


The one Chinese government dictate that many people oppose limits the number of children a family can have.

From 1979 to 2013, the government restricted a couple to only one child. If a family had more than one child, the government would tax more than five times the individuals’ salaries as a penalty. If the fine were not paid, the child could never go to school and or hold a legal job.

One young man in Xian lamented how difficult he’s found it to meet a potential bride. That’s because there are so few women and far more men or about 12 percent more after 30 years since the introduction of the policy.

A man also becomes the primary provider of and payer for supportive health care for his parents—a position that places a huge burden on the man

“How can I work and take care of my family?” one man in Xian asked me.

Even more important, the one-child policy resulted in widespread abortion of use of day-after pills. An estimated 23 million babies die each year through the use of these methods. As a comparison, the United States commits about one million abortions a year. Using the China pattern, the United States would kill more than four times its current rate.

Another consequence of the centralized approach to family planning is that there won’t be enough workers in the so-called “workers’ state” to replace those who are retiring. That also could create a huge economic imbalance of fewer consumers.

“Regardless of whether birth-control laws prohibit or encourage procreation, if such laws are based simply on the whims of a dictator or on statistics, they are bound to run into problems. We may not want to have more children, but we should have the right to do so, if we please,” Dai Qing, a prominent female journalist wrote recently.

 The relaxation of the one-child policy doesn’t exactly expand the freedom of family choice by a huge amount. Only those who come from a single-child family can have an additional child.

The law represents government intrusion into personal life—an intrusion many Chinese aren’t afraid to talk about with foreigners.

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