The Controversy, Complexity and Reality behind China’s One-Child Policy

October 3, 2011

Louise Watt of the Associated Press writes of China’s wealthy wanting to leave China, and once again demonstrates the West’s ignorance of the one-child policy.

Pub Med Central provides a better history of the one-child policy.

“In 1979, the one-child family policy was developed and implemented in response to concerns about the social and economic consequences of continued rapid population growth,” Pub Med said, and, “implementation was more successful in urban areas than rural areas.”

Pub Med says, “It was hoped that third and higher order births could be eliminated and that about 30% of couples might agree to forgo a second child… In some of the largest and most advanced cities like Shanghai, sizeable proportions of couples already chose to have only one child (regardless of the law).

“As a result, it was not long before 90 percent of couples in urban areas were (easily) persuaded to restrict their families to a single child.”

However, Pub Med says, in rural areas of China the opposite happened, and 90 percent of women with one child went on to have a second (regardless of the law) and there wasn’t much the Communist Party could do to stop them.

AP’s Louise Watt writes, “Under China’s one-child policy in place for the last three decades to control population growth, couples can be penalized for having more than one child. In Beijing, the penalty is a one-off fee 3-10 times the city’s average income, a maximum of 250,000 yuan ($40,000).”

Watt also tells us that among the 20,000 Chinese with at least 100 million yuan ($15 million) 27 percent have already left China and 47 percent are considering it, and they want to leave so they can have more children on the cheap and buy land that does not belong to the government.

These wealthy Chinese Louise Watt writes of may be surprised to discover that if the U.S. wants to build a school, park, freeway or shopping center, and your house is in the way, it will be bought and bulldozed.

The law for this is called Eminent Doman and 60 Minutes at CBS News reported on possible abuses of this in the United States in February 2009. Rebecca Leung of CBS News wrote, “But did you know the government can also seize your land for private use if they can prove that doing it will serve what’s called ‘the public good’?”

In addition, it would be interesting to discover if some or all of the wealthy Chinese claiming to have left China to have more children and buy a home left for other reasons they are not talking of.

In The Danger of False Truths, I mentioned that thousands of corrupt Chinese officials stole more than $120-billion U.S. and fled overseas—and the U.S. was a top destination.

If so, the real reason many of these “wealthy” Chinese left China may have been to avoid going to prison or being executed.

In addition to Eminent Domain, if an American cannot pay the annual property tax or income tax in the United States, the house will be lost to the government.  I estimate that the property tax I paid since I first owned a home in 1973 would have paid the penalty for a dozen extra children in China.

In fact, due to property tax, no one really owns their homes in America and everyone is just a tenant, and the U.S.  Government is the landlord. In China, they call it like it is, while in the US, most people believe in fairy tales.

I suggest you read what Foreclosure Warehouse.com has to say on this topic.

And if you were worth $15 million dollars and wanted a second or third child, $40,000 a child would not dent that fortune.  In addition, in China when someone buys a house for that 70-year lease, the property tax is paid only once at the time of the purchase and currently there is no law that says you have to pay any property tax again unless it is an investment property.

When these rich Chinese arrive in the US and buy a million dollar house, they will be paying property tax annually. Taxes on land and the buildings on it are the biggest source of revenue for local governments.

In California, for example, property tax for a million dollar house costs about $10,000 a year, and forty years of property tax would cost about a half million dollars, which is much more than $40,000 for the second child and another $40,000 for the third child.

Maybe Louisa Watt should have also mentioned that U.S. citizenship is for sale for foreign millionaires and the details may be found at All Voices.com, and most Americans could not afford this legal bribe (sorry, I meant deal).

In fact, there’s a lot about China’s one-child policy that Louise Watt isn’t revealing, and what she writes may have to do with America’s busy-body, do as I say morality, which interferes as often as possible in the domestic philosophies and affairs of other countries—something China does not do.

For decades, China’s one-child policy has been criticized in America and/or the West mostly by evangelical, fundamentalist Christians that represent one of American’s squeaky wheels with a political agenda to force their beliefs on others.

However, what these critics do not know may shock them, but I doubt if it will deter their misguided zeal.

In the September/October 2011 issue of Foreign Policy magazine, Phillip Longman wrote The World Will Be More Crowded With Old People, and said, “Another related megatrend is the rapid change in the size, structure, and nature of the family. In many countries such as Germany, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, the one-child family is now becoming the norm (without a law)… Today about one in five people in advanced Western countries, including the United States, remains childless.”

AP’s Louise Watt also doesn’t tell us the one-child policy does not apply to the hundred million people in China that belong to one of the fifty-six minorities or many of the Han Chinese living in rural China where most Chinese don’t pay property tax, rent or a mortgage payment since the land is owned collectively and may not be sold.

Since minorities in China are a small segment of the population, China’s government practices flexibility with the minority birth rate in order to keep minorities an important part of China’s culture.

For example, Tibetans may not live the feudal, nomadic lifestyle with the 35-year lifespan they once had under the Dalai Lama (the average lifespan in Tibet today is more than 60 without the Dalai Lama), which they had before Mao sent the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into Tibet in 1950.

Isn’t it horrible how the Tibetans were forced to give up that shorter average lifespan and feudal servitude?

However, as a minority, Tibetans may have as many children as they want and the penalty Louise Watt writes of does not exist for them.

We often hear of the Uighur Muslims since this minority has an Islamic separatist movement in the northwest near Afghanistan where the US is fighting a war against a similar insurgency, but the Uighurs are a minority so the one-child policy also does not apply them, and they are not the only Muslims in China.

The Hui are unique among the fifty-six officially recognized minorities of China in that Islam is their only unifying identity. They do not have a unique language as the other minorities do and often intermarry with Han Chinese.

In fact, many live outside the Hui autonomous region. Since the Hui are considered a minority, the one-child policy also does not apply to them.

The Chinese government says if it weren’t for the one-child policy, there would be another four-hundred million mouths to feed and provide shelter for. Instead of 1.3 billion people in China, there would be almost 2 billion—more than six times the population of the US, and China cannot grow crops on about 90% of its land.

France 24 International News reported another recent exception to China one-child policy for Shanghai.

Chinese law allows married couples in Shanghai that are both the only child of their parents to have two children even if they are Han Chinese.

To make sure these married couples are aware of this exception, China provides support from government run family planning centers that check on women’s health and inform them of their rights and responsibilities to have more than one child.

The Shanghai government encourages married couples eligible to have more than one child to do so, which, in Shanghai, means most married couples.

The Shanghai Family Planning Commission first promoted this policy in 2009. The reason for this campaign lies in Shanghai’s population demographics.

Because of the one-child policy, Shanghai has been particularly hard hit by an age disparity, and 22 percent of the citizens of Shanghai are over sixty and these numbers are expected to grow.

Xu Xihua, the director of Shanghai’s Aging Development Center says that by adjusting the one-child policy in Shanghai, this disparity in ages can be partially reduced and giving couples an opportunity to have two children is part of the plan.

However, the central government stresses it is not abandoning its family planning policies or its control over the number of births. Fear of overpopulation and potential famines remains high in a country that has a history of droughts, floods and famines, which is something the U.S. has not yet experienced in its brief history.

France 24 International News also reported how one Chinese couple wanted to have more than one child and the couple took advantage of loopholes in the one-child policy to have three.

The mother’s first child was a boy, and she was desperate to have a girl.

Since fines are less for a second child if delivered in a remote rural province, the couple moved south.

However, the mother discovered she was pregnant again soon after the birth of the second child, which was a girl, and the doctor told her that because of health reasons she couldn’t have an abortion.

And recently, authorities in China’s most populous province have asked Beijing to ease the one-child policy.

In addition, wealthy Chinese businessmen, television and movie stars often avoid the one-child policy since they have money to pay the fine Louise Watt writes of in her AP piece, and ten percent of rich Chinese have an average of three children and this practice is spreading among the upper-middle class. Since they stay in China, these wealthy Chinese avoid paying annual property tax in America.

Peng Xizhe, dean of social development and public policy at Fudan University, says “In the Maoist era everyone was controlled by his work unit. It’s over now. Many workers are independent. It becomes more and more difficult for the government to pressure people to having only one child.”

In fact, according to some experts, China will adopt a two-child policy in several years.

However, unexpected problems besides an aging population may have developed from the one-child policy, which is explained by a NPR All Things Considered report by Louisa Lim’s Lightning Divorces Strike China’s ME Generation.

Lim says Beijing has the highest divorce rate in China with 39 percent of all marriages ending in a split.

One Beijing woman, Cheng, tells Lim of her six-month marriage that ended as fast as it started. Cheng blamed the divorce on belonging to the generation of spoiled singletons (one-child), known as the post-1980’s generation.

Dr. Perry, a professor of economics and finance in the US, agrees that the upsurge in China’s divorce rate is because of the selfish and narcissistic generation of spoiled one-child children in China (have you already forgotten that many of these urban parents decided to have only one child before or in spite of the law).

But hold on, there may be another explanation why Beijing’s divorce rate is soaring. Eight years ago, a married couple needed permission from their work unit to divorce. Today, couples have the freedom to divorce in China without asking.

Although it may be difficult to link China’s changing divorce rate to the one-child policy, there is another outcome that cannot be denied.

China may have cut off a foot to save its stomach from starvation.

Studies predict that China will soon be short 24 million wives. It doesn’t matter that it is illegal in China to take a test for non-medical reasons that determines the sex of the fetus.

Since China’s culture traditionally prefers boys to girls, many parents go to underground private clinics to find out what the sex of the fetus is. If it is a girl, many terminate the pregnany with an illegal abortion.

The results is a growing shortage of women leading to illegal forced marriages and prostitution (sex slaves), which is a challenge for the police and courts to deal with.

After you learn more of the details of China’s one-child policy, you discover that it was a law without many teeth and didn’t deserve the criticism it received, which leads to the conclusion that the American and/or West’s reaction is due mostly to racist Sinophobia.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note: Information that appears in this post first appeared on March 7, 2010 in One Child, on March 18, 2010 in The One-Child Tragedy, on November 5, 2010 in Exemptions in China’s one-child policy,  on November 28, 2010 in Reversing China’s one-child Policy, and on November 29, 2010 in Avoiding China’s one-child Policy.


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