As the country gets more prosperous, it seems that the One Child policy is coming under enormous pressure.
China Daily reported a few months ago on how a growing number of women are choosing to give birth in Hong Kong (as a Special Administrative Region, it’s not considered “real” China) as a way around the permit needed to give birth under current regulations.
More couples than ever can now afford to pay the huge fine (10 times the annual average per capita income of the area in which they reside).
To clamp down on this, the government is trying new methods, primarily shaming and stopping prominent businessmen from being able to bid for government contracts.
This is interesting not only for the fact that shame is still an effective way to change behaviour in China (works in just the opposite way in the UK where any kind of attention for bad behaviour is likely to catapult you into the tabloids, get you a chat show and a perfume) but also for the fact that the policy has survived for so long.
The international media (originally the FT but also the BBC and NYT amongst others) has picked up on a similar story, focusing on moves in Shanghai to allow selected categories of couples to have two children. The categories are fascinating of themselves and include:
- couples who are themselves only children.
- couples where a spouse is a fisherman who has been at sea for 5 years (really).
The reason given by the Shanghai government is the same as France’s post-WW2 policy of rewarding large families: a rapidly growing elderly populace and the need for more workers of tomorrow. It is not at all a sign of some kind of thaw in China’s One Child policy across the rest of Mainland China.
While Remedial Wife doesn’t agree with the massive intrusion into one’s reproductive choices by the state here or anywhere, she does think that the planet is at bursting point and that thinking seriously about the consequences of over-population is a good thing.