Continued from this entry: One Child Policy in China
Well. I am back home. It is 23:44 Tuesday night, and I think it is the good time to get started to answer this big question.
The Disclaimer (I hate it but I have to)
Before I started, just put the disclaimer here, as I usually did.
This is just a personal blog, and what I am talking here only represents my CURRENT point of view. Not anybody else, not to mention the whole country. I emphasis that it is the current point of view, because any one’s POV may change after he/she is exposed to more data, and has more experience, including me. Also, I am not a consultant, and I don’t want to pretend to know China well. I was born in small city in China, and lived there for 18 years before I moved to Shanghai about 10 years ago. I didn’t see the whole China, even didn’t see enough about Shanghai. I promise I don’t put anything I know is not true on this blog, but I am not saying whatever I believe is true is the truth.
OK. Enough about the disclaim. One problem people in this world have is, by reading newspaper, people claim they know a lot.
Just another off-topic story. My friends told me when he just went to Germany, he only see China appeared on movie or TV station as a poor country. He saw ugly stuff that he never saw in China. He complained why they didn’t introduce city like Shanghai or Beijing or any “good places”. He complained about the lack of completeness of the media there. He complained they didn’t know about China. Later, he finally realized it was him who didn’t see China completely. I always wanted to avoid his mistake when we talk about topics about my country.
One Child Policy
Here is how the one child policy came into being (from the story I heard or read). In the year 1949, China has about 400 – 500 million people. Guided by the theory of “the more people, the stronger we are”, people are encouraged to have as many children as they can. It was of greatest honor to have more children in one’s family in the next 30 years. By the time Deng Xiaoping started to focus more on development of economy instead of population, China is already way ahead affordable people – that is about one billion. So one child policy was introduced.
I have two brothers. I am the youngest one in my family. I was born in Oct in the year of 1977. The One Child Policy came out the same year, about 2 months before I was born, and was enforced in the year 1979 (at least in the place I was born, based on what I heard). So it is not common for people younger than me to have any brothers or sisters.
The Problem One Child Policy Caused
The facts part of many reports are true. (This sentence implies I don’t totally agree on the conclusion part.) The one child policy was enforced from city to villages, and was even violately enforced in some extreme cases.
From what I can feel (again, not what a social expert or economist sees it), it caused at least two problems.
1) Spoiled children.
It is common belief that the generation gap between 1979 and 1980 is much bigger than other gaps (this is just the common point of view in my friend circle of about 100 persons, not necessarily represents the whole country). We guess the reason may be, the generation starting from 1980 don’t have brothers or sisters. They are the only child of a couple, and the only grandchild of two couples. They are treated as “little emperor” inside the family, but fell lonely deep in heart.
I don’t worry about this too much though. Every generation worry about the next generation, with no exception in the last few thousands years. It is how the history works. So I don’t worry about this part. They will figure it out.
2) Old Society Problem.
When the one child policy approaches the third generation (in recent years), people find one child needs to support two parents and 4 grandparents. When they get married, one couple needs to support 4 parents and 8 grandparents. That will cause big problem.
The Recent Change in Policy
In the recent years, big changes have been introduced to the policy. More and more people can have two children. From what I see, it is clear that the policy has almost completed its mission to correct the mistake people made in the last half century and starts to retire.
For example, if both the husband and wife are the only one-child in his family, they can have two children.
I visited the rural area last year, and saw big posters to list about 14 (or some number like this) situations under which people can have two children. I cannot recall all of them. It basically said if it is reasonable to start have two children, people can have two children.
In Shanghai, and many places, the one child policy is not that enforced as before. Previously, the fine for having the second child was twice the annual income of the family (I heard about this but didn’t find any document or regulation about this yet). And the biggest punishment was much more that money. In the old 1980’s, to have the second child practically ruin the future of the couple, and even ruin the future of many related people – like the head of the unit (employer) or the head of the town/village.
Currently, it was not that big a problem. Attempt to find change in regulations or laws will fail, since you can only feel this change, instead of see it.
Government official said they are reviewing the one-child policy and are considering opening it up, but it is a bad idea to open it in one year or two, since it will cause a birth peak that no hospital, school, labor market or government services can handle.
What is MY opinion and What am I Doing
It is always hard to let people understand the *real* situation in China. I know friends from outside China who showed understanding of the policy to some extend (of cause not everyone) after their first visit to China.
Looking back of the history, there are so many mistakes in this country, and we need to solve the problems caused by these mistakes. If you ask me, I share the shame of the country as well as the glory. I am embarrassed to see the mistakes the government made, and is making. That is my opinion.
To say “I hate China” or “I am out of here” is easy for many people, if they are not part of the country. But it is not possible for me. No matter how messy the problems of history left to us as a generation, or how difficult it is to change the current situation, we are the people to solve it, right?
If you are with me long enough on this blog, you will understand I don’t like talking. Sorry I didn’t mentioned news just for sake of news on this blog, unless I can do something on my side. This is what I am doing, to tell history and to setup the bridge for the two worlds (Western and eastern) or even more worlds (every country is a world) to talk. I have no interest or ambition to save the world. I am only interested in and enjoy about helping just one person or two persons. That is good enough for me. Otherwise, I may quit blogging three years ago.
Back to the Investment Question
I think I don’t need to put the disclaimer of “this is not an investment suggestion” stuff here. (Sorry for over reacting, but there is just too high expectation for me to speak as a spokesperson or a journalist)
My immediate answer is, don’t worry about this problem. Yes. I am very sure. “Don’t worry about it”.
China has much bigger problems than this. I would even ignore this if you want me to talk about bigger problems. Wall Streets and New York Times are talking about these problems every week.
We still invest although we know the global warming presents the risk of flooding many cities or even countries, and we keep investing even when we know the oil will be used up within 50 years. When we talk about problems, it is big. However, there are the right people thinking about solutions. I believe human being has survived by overcoming one challenge after the other, and so does a country.
I am not saying One-Child Policy is not a problem. It is. This policy is being abandened. That is the solution.
Pete, thanks for the questions, and suggestions you provided. I don’t have the knowledge to judge whether it is valid or it is impractical in China. What I do know is, the solution part is quite eye-opening for me. I never thought about these solutions or heard about it. For example, opening immigration policy to people in Asia and western world seems very new to me.
China is among very few countries that has continuous history in the last 4000 years. Many problems are much more complicated than people thought. Many problems were caused by mistakes in history (like over-population in 1960’s), but more problems were created by solving those old problems (like one child policy). The solution to solve the problem caused by one-child policy may not be abandoning it immediately. Based on my limited knowledge about sociology, I can imagine what will happen if the birth rate suddenly raises by 500%.
The situation of thousands of problems mixed together is much harder to handle. I am not saying the current solution is the right now. To be honest, I am so embarrassed when the Chinese government was challenged for doing stupid things. At the same time, just because I love the country, and I am part of it, I cannot simply pointing fingers like foreigners do.
P.S. Lessons Learnt in Simulatoin City game
On energy, for example, I learnt something when I was put into the mayor’s position in the Simulation City game. It is a computer game. In it, you are given a piece of land, and 50,000 USD to develop a city. In order to have any resident to live there, you need to have water supply, electricity and roads. There are six types of power station for electricity. The cheapest and relatively powerful one is the coal-based electricity station. It cost 5,000 USD, but it pollute the environment. The cleaner enegry is the nuclear electricity station. It cost 250,000 USD, 5 times more than the money I have.
To get started with the game, you have to build a coal-based station first with the limited money (the other 45,000 need to be used build a lot of other stuff). When people start to live on the land, you can collect tax, and do trading. 20 years after the city was built (in the game), I finally accumulated enough money (about 380,000), and I made the decision to get rid of the two coal-based stations, and built a nuclear station.
In many places in China, it is in similar situation. Everyone knows a much better solution, but that solution has a condition, that people need to get started to build the conditions first. We cannot take it for granted that we have that. If I am not misleading, the history of many countries are similiar. So just give the country mroe patience to solve the problems.
P.S. 1:03 AM now. Didn’t do spelling check or grammer check on this entry yet. I welcome open discussion on this topic, both positive or negative comments are welcome. I am not discouraged when someone correct me and let me know more about this world.