The UK media continues to malign the Chinese policies of managing their population size.
On Assignment, November 23rd 2016, ITV
“One year after the end of China’s one child policy, Debi Edward explores the impact of the controversial law and meets the women who now have the chance of having a second child.”
The programme was biased against the Chinese policies. It focused on negative aspects of the policies, as experienced by a tiny minority of people, including distressing clips of parents whose one child had died from suicide or illness.
This is an unfair representation of the policy, which results in the perpetuation of the negative view it has in the Western World. In the programme, Debi Edward says the policy has left “deep scars”, and has clips of very distressed women, crying and explaining their torment.
One example include a crying woman saying “It is like an arrow through my heart”
There are images of artist Wang Peng’s collection of foetuses from terminated pregnancies, calling it “a murdering policy”, further adding to the misrepresentation. The programme is biased towards childbearing, with phrases used such as ‘blossoming baby bumps’ to describe pregnant women.
The Chinese One-child policy has resulted in the Chinese population being 400 million lower than if the policy had not been introduced. This is an incredible number with massive importance to the future well-being of our planet. If the policy had not been introduced, China, and by implication, the planet would be in a far more parlous state than it already is. China has been vilified for its policy – it should be applauded. The West should apologise for its malicious misrepresentation of a great achievement.
The policy was not in any way as coercive as many reports have suggested. There were at least 22 ways in which parents could qualify for exceptions to the law towards the end of the one-child policy’s existence. As of 2007, only 35.9% of the population were subject to a strict one-child limit. 52.9% were permitted to have a second child if their first was a daughter. Ethnic minorities are allowed more than one child, as are residents of rural areas. Some cities allow families in which both parents are only children to have additional children. And some couples simply ignore the law and pay a fine for having two or more children.
Today, at family planning offices, women receive free contraception and pre-natal classes that contribute to the policy’s success in two respects. First, the average Chinese household expends fewer resources, both in terms of time and money, on children, which gives many Chinese people more money with which to invest. Second, since Chinese adults can no longer rely on children to care for them in their old age, there is an impetus to save money for the future
A small family can result in more resources for children development, better health care for families, overall better living standards. It results in an increased saving rate: the average family expends fewer resources due to fewer children. Reduces unemployment as more jobs are available due to decrease in population.
A 2008 survey showed that the one-child policy is largely popular with the Chinese public – 76% approved of the policy, while only 21% disapprove. Approval was particularly high among those with higher incomes (85%) and those who live in cities (84%). Individuals who have two or more children under the age of 18 living at home were less likely to support the policy, although even in this group, 63% approve of it.
On 20 September 2014 a special report in The Economist on global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions ranks China’s one-child policy as the fourth most important policy or action contributing toward this goal in recent decades, after the Montreal Protocol, worldwide use of hydroelectric power and the spread of nuclear power. The one-child policy is credited with producing a cumulative reduction of 1.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide and other gases.
China has become the world’s largest economy and the world’s largest source of the greenhouse gases blamed for driving up global temperatures.
With a global population heading towards 8 billion, the truth is that trying to support this many people will bring about environmental disaster. We can see the damage that is already being done by our present population. Climate change is causing droughts, storms, rising sea levels, soil depletion. Overpopulation is resulting in a lack of fresh water, overfishing, species extinction, and overcrowding in cities.
Given the damage we are causing, and the suffering we foresee for all those who live after us, having more than one child is something that none of us has a moral right to do. We have no right to cause great harm to others when we can avoid this without great loss to ourselves.
An economic system based on growth, where growth means more people using more resources, will eventually face a crisis. Changing it now, before the crunch, will be less painful than trying to do that when our backs are against the wall.
It’s new for us to think of something as immediately joyful as childbearing as harmful, and it’s hard to change our ideas when we are confronted with new circumstances. This is natural. Natural, but dangerous. We’re in a different world, a world of 7.5 billion and counting, and we need to recognize that and act accordingly. We have to pave the way for a prosperous, stable society for future citizens. Any kind of one-child policy will be unattractive, but the alternative looks to be worse.