Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Lingering Trauma of China's One-Child Policy

New York Times (Oct. 31, 2015): China's Longtime One-Child Rule Is Gone, but Trauma Lingers, by Edward Wong:

"Comprehensively implement a policy that couples can have two children, actively taking steps to counter the aging of the population,” the Communist Party said in a communiqué on Thursday. Those flat words, and their allusion to spurring economic growth, provided the official rationale for transforming a one-child policy that has left cradles empty and hearts hollow across China, scarring generations of families. The human rights abuses have included forced sterilizations and abortions, the killing of infants and the sale of children. From the start, in 1979, officials across China were told that population control was a priority, and that their jobs and career prospects, as well as those of colleagues, could depend on whether they met the targets. “The central government, though it didn’t actively advocate for the forceful measures, tacitly approved them because it didn’t say anything,” said Liang Zhongtang, 68, an early adviser to senior officials on family planning who advocated a two-child policy decades ago. So abhorrent are the practices that the United States government grants refugee status to Chinese citizens who say they face persecution because of coercive family planning, making it easier for those people to get asylum.

Many questions are raised by the termination of the one-child policy, among them who will take care of China's aging population and what the ramifications of the country's stark gender imbalance for the future stability of its society are. Some believe that the one-child policy has forever altered the way young people think about becoming parents. Others warn that until the system that emerged to enforce the one-child policy is abolished entirely, abuses will continue.

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