Beyond Latchkey Kids

August 6, 2012

In rural China, more than 100 million migrants have left their homes to find work in the cities. By 2025, it is predicted that another 243 million will migrate. The benefit for these rural to urban migrants is increased income, access to education and a higher standard of living.

However, not all have the money to take their children with them. Some children stay behind — alone.

“Researchers estimate that at least 58 million — nearly a quarter of the nation’s children and almost a third of its rural children — are growing up without one or both of their parents, who have migrated in search of work. More than half of those were left by both parents.” Source: Rural Life in China

In the US, we call such children Latchkey Kids. In fact, Jareb Collins at Associated Content says as many as 77 percent of American youth are Latchkey Kids. If accurate, that adds up to more than 57 million American children.

In addition, in 2009, there were about 18.1 million children in the United States living in single-mother families. Source: prb.org

In the video, Xie Xiang Ling is one of those children in China that lives alone. She is twelve and tells her story to Al Jazeera.

Ling says she lives alone in rural Anhui Province.

Her parents work in the city and she takes care of herself. Sometimes her parents come home on the weekend and sometimes are gone for months.

Ling said there are too many people in the city where her parents sell fruit, tea and nuts.

When Ling visited her parents in the city, she had trouble sleeping nights because the city is so loud and there are so many cars.

Back home, Ling does her own cooking and eats fruit.

At times, she helps on her aunt’s farm and pulls the vegetables from the ground.

In school, she loves language class and math but does not like the English class since the teacher always screams at the students.

Ling wants to go to college and earn good money but her family cannot afford to send her to college.

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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: This revised and edited post first appeared December 30, 2010


China’s Future Political Divide Revealed

May 24, 2011

A report by Melissa Chan for Al Jazeera reminded me of America’s political divide between red (Republican) and blue (Democratic) states.

If we look at the four US presidential elections between 1996 – 2008, we discover the political divide in America, and it is mostly between large urban population centers and rural/middle America as if America were two countries — not one.

A similar split may be growing in China, and Melissa Chan’s report, “China’s Youth Divided over Superpower Status” reveals the divide that parallels America’s split between old-world conservative values and new-world, compassionate idealism.

Chan reported from Beijing April 8, 2011 revealing China’s (middle-class urban) youth were living the wild life dancing the nights away as North American and European youth have been doing for decades.

For China’s form of new-world idealism, the music is heavy metal. “Stand up!” the musician sings. “Stand up! You are Chinese! Rise Up! You are the descendents of the dragon!”

“However,” Melissa Chan says, “this euphoria is qualified by a sense of duty missing in the West.”

Hu Song, the lead singer of Yakso, a popular heavy metal group, told Chan, “China most certainly has emerged as a power. But I hope with great power…people’s spirits will also rise up or else it is a problematic power.”

After watching the Al Jazeera news report, it was obvious that many rural youths do not agree with the middle-class urban youths that have the luxury to spend nights dancing to heavy metal, a lifestyle imported from the West along with American fast food, which brought an epidemic of diabetes and heart disease to urban China.

For some (mainly among China’s 700 million rural Chinese) this is expressed in pride and patriotism.

Others (mainly middle-class urban youth) are more skeptical of their leaders, raising their voices through the medium of a dynamic youth counterculture such as heavy metal music with long nights of dancing accompanied by increased drug use as in the West.

There is another difference between rural and urban China. The one-child policy, which focused mainly in urban areas while many peasants on farms in rural China were allowed to have more than one child so there were more hands to work the field. This helped most of rural China avoid raising little emperor/empresses — another explanation for the growing division in thought.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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The Challenge of Rural Health Care in America and China

July 7, 2010

This morning, I read in the AARP Bulletin about small town medicine in the US aptly titled Lonesome Doc.  I learned that 77 million Americans (more than 25% of the population) living in rural areas have 10% of the doctors and that a 2008 study found life expectancies are declining in rural America.  Many doctors will not work in rural America where primary care doctors make about $20,000 a year less than their big-city counterparts.

China has similar challenges with rural health care. In 2009, The Journal of International Relations reported that in China “low-end institutions, particularly the rural township hospitals and community hospitals in the cities are gradually shrinking. More than 87% of rural population was without any health insurance.…When rural low income people need to go to the hospital, 70 to 90% choose self care.”

Then near the end of 2009, China’s central government announced a new five-year plan to improve the quality of life for rural citizens. The New Health Care Bill Facts reported “The (Chinese) government decision to improve healthcare infrastructure in rural areas will result in increasing demand of medical devices and equipment.”

China also recently sent a team to Sweden to learn how chronic diseases are managed there since China, with its ageing population, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of chronic disease cases.”

I wondered what the US was doing to improve rural-health care.  I did read that primary-care doctors coming out of college would have student loans forgiven if they work in rural America. After all, this is America where we trust in the private sector to solve everything as long as the money is there.

See China’s Health Care During Mao’s Time

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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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


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