One Child Policy – Part II

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.

37 thoughts on “One Child Policy – Part II

  1. Nice opening Jian Shuo and I believe it to be sincere in what you said.

    now for crucial and personal question: why is it that Wendy and you don’t even have one (1) child yet? Please answer this even though I realize it is somewhat personal.

  2. could it be because many Chinese married couples in Shanghai are concentrating now on making a lot of money and gathering wealth instead of children?

  3. Democracy or not. Governments never like to admit mistakes they have made. The result is always the same. That is the common people will suffer. ie, Bush Administration invading Iraq.

    JS did not mention the pain and suffering of the one child policy enough. Forced abortions were routine. To make sure they don’t have to do that again, force sterilization was a regular practice. Pregnant women with their second child use to go into hiding fearing that they would be caught. Fines were very heavy which amount to years of Annual income. The lucky ones that escape forced abortions in the village, no land was given to them to farm on or to grow rice/food with. That means, the newborn do not exist and have to get a little food from each of the family members’s plate. That is if you can call them lucky, causing psychological scars that will never heal.

  4. JS, even with “one child policy” in place in China, funny is the birth rate of China today is almost same as US, and many western countries have much lower rate than that. What China needs today is comprehensive education and the elimination of illiteracy. It is not about quantity, but quality!

  5. Tony wrote:

    “That is the common people will suffer. ie, Bush Administration invading Iraq.”

    Clearly, the Bush Administration did not go into Iraq alone to topple Saddam but was accompanied by Coalition forces including the UK, Spain, Italy, South Korea, Denmark, Poland, Romania and other countries.

  6. The US is being subjected to *squeeze* by the war with the insurgency in Iraq, the situation with the Iranian crazies wanting to pursue uranium enrichment for development of nuclear weapons and now the North Korean crazies threatening to launch a long-range ballistic missile at our West Coast.

    And what kind of European support do we have to stand up to and confront the squeeze? Answer: we have the French who can only throw old cheese at the terrorists because they don’t have much of a military 2) we have the Brits with a discredited Prime Minister Tony Blair who most Brits blame for dragging Britain into the Iraq war 3) we have Germany which is so pacifist that they don’t want to stand up with military force against any terrorist state., and the list goes on of faint hearted and/or ill-equipped Western nations.

  7. Macroeconomic trends are hard to forecast. Investing based on trying to forecast macro trends is a difficult game. Warren Buffett invests based on the business itself and ignores macro trends.

    Japan is a rapidly aging society with very poor demographics. Yet there are still opportunities to make money in business there.

    In my humble opinion, it’s better to focus on the potential of the business itself rather than worry about macro trends.

  8. Tony

    the one child policy has lasted for almost 30 years. what you said may be true then, but definitely not true now. At least from my experience. I live in Shanghai now and have a lot of relatives living in small villages in the Northwest.

    I have 4 uncles who are only 5 to 10 years older than me. Every time they visited my parent’s home, there will be about 20 kids with them. We have to do counting literally every time when we move from place to place. It is very clear that the one child policy is enforced very weakly now. The local official(village head) has lost their interest on enforcing this policy a long time ago and the fine hasn’t been changing for a long time. With people getting rich rapidly over the past 5 to 10 years, the fine is not a big problem anymore.

  9. A while back I looked up the requirements for having a second child legally in China today. Here are the rules from:

    Shanghai (Chinese, English)

    Guangzhou (Chinese, English; English translation is of an earlier version)

    Beijing (Chinese)

    As you can see, they are all nearly the same and list several exceptional cases in which a second child is OK, including both parents being an only child as Wang Jianshuo noted above. Keep in mind that what you see above is merely a snapshot of the current state of a set of changing rules, which are evolving towards a more relaxed policy regarding population planning. And like xge said, the reality doesn’t even follow the law, so take the links above with an extra grain of salt.

  10. Stephen, you’re right.

    The government has done something, they cancelled the school fee for basic and middle school. I don’t know if the books are free too ?…

    But high school is not free.

    And most jobs require a high school exam.

    So what to do for the poor in the rural areas ?

    About learning – in fact it is very difficult for chinese to learn chinese of the simple fact that it is not possible to combine the characters with reasonable logic, and then many give up and ends up in illiteracy. I know many people who say this to me.

    Government – change into an easy alphabet. The characters were for the insiders in the emperor dynasties, not for today where all have to learn to read.

    Example : Korean Hangul was invented 600 years ago as a new alphabet, and is quite easy to learn, even for foreigners !

    Another thing is health care – rise taxes for the rich (especially the factory owners, they treat the workers very bad, like I have never seen it before), so they can pay for the poorest.

    Today is like this : If you are sick and have money you can live, if no money – “sorry, we can’t help you !” Shame on the rich !

    (Hmm – what WAS the original idea of communism ??)

  11. It is not true that China is loosening it one-child policy, even under the international pressure from rights NGOs. For example, Shanghai authority stipulate that a second child is only legitimate under following circumstances:

    Meanwhile, China authority targets minority groups for stricter forced-abortion as their way of ‘family-planning’, in order to maintain Han Chinese’s predominance in demography.

  12. Carsten

    I have a good Chinese friend who tells me that the Chinese in China are concerned about one thing and only one thing and that is ‘money’. They don’t care about anything else beyond money. One can be a Ph.D over there but without money, a Ph.D is a nothing. Maybe that helps to explain why the environment in China has suffered such extensive damage.

  13. Shrek7: You bet. Can they spell zeitgeist? That’s it.

    China goverment takes out ethics from public or even private life. It’s a success. China now is a value-free nation. I laugh every time when I hear people taking about 5000-year civilization of China. If it’s true, Henan must be the richest province in China. Ask blothug wangjianshuo.

  14. To those who are serious about understanding Chinese, take a look at the words from the Chinese overwhelmed by their joy on the mutilation and killing of 2 GIs:

    If you can’t read Chinese:

    Those comments show a much more real face than the polished PR garbage here.

  15. Bellevue

    all the hype about China does not extend to anything other than ‘money and wealth’. Most of the population has been so impoverished and backward for so long that they are all acting like ‘fools rushing in.’

  16. Bellevue

    all the hype about China does not extend to anything other than ‘money and wealth’. Most of the population has been so impoverished and backward for so long that they are all acting like ‘fools rushing in.’

  17. Bellevue

    all the hype about China does not extend to anything other than ‘money and wealth’. Most of the population has been so impoverished and backward for so long that they are all acting like ‘fools rushing in.’

  18. shrek7 this blothug wangjianshuo finally gets the order. His master must have told him to block my posts.

  19. Oceans12

    As a Yank with strong Brit roots, I vehemently protest and object to any blockage of Oceans12’s posts. He’s entitled to be heard.

  20. “I laugh every time when I hear people taking about 5000-year civilization of China. If it’s true, Henan must be the richest province in China.”

    Bellevue: According to your logic, the Egyptians, the Roman the Greeks, and … are all have thousands years civilization, so they should be amount the richest nations/people in the world today. Are they? You are the one is to be laughed at.

  21. Buster05

    I too have frequently heard mention of ‘age’ and discovery of gunpowder in the 8th century as being a claim to sophistication and advancement on the part of the Chinese. The Chinese should have made a fortune selling gunpowder and been light years ahead of Western nations. Can you explain why the Chinese squandered their early inventions and ended up so impoverished? I don’t think you can blame it on invading Colonial Western powers since China had all the gunpowder and munitions to more than amply defend itself.

  22. Very good, Shrek7 or 2. The Chinese, way a head of you, have already figured it out. They got rid of the Emperor and set up a republic. The process was only to be derailed by the Japs. The punks wouldn’t leave you alone just because you are nice. Since then they have been working on making a big pants with two big pockets. One is going to be filled with cash and another with guns, the big ones. Now the punks are shitting their pants. Pretty soon the only thing the punks and their rich Dad can do is yell.

  23. Ha punks, look! Who is helping them filling those two pockets? ?

    The pockets will be full slowly but surely. Whether you like it or not, You can’t stop it, can you?

  24. good Bellevue

    let me know if you have any further difficulties posting because I know the man who carries big hollow bamboo tube which can be used as flame thrower.

  25. Ha you! Bellevue, get over here! Are the Egyptians, the Italians, the Greeks the richest in the world today? Yes or No? Let’s hear it from your big/loud mouth. Say it, yes or no? Don’t try to slide off!

  26. Hey Buster bellevue was trying to be funny (well..sacastic actually) when he said

    “china should be the richest country in the world” based on history itself. Bellevuew obviously doesnt like china

  27. Student riots broke out in Henan Province, China over the labels on their diplomas. The students paid an extra steep tuition believing they would have the name ‘Zhengzhou University’ on their diplomas but instead they received diplomas with the name “Zhengzhou University Shengda Economic, Trade and Management College.”

    China sure does get involved in a lot of ‘fake’ stuff, i.e. fake diplomas, fake scientific research, fake designer clothing and goods, fake software, fake movies, fake jewelry, watches, etc

    Rioting in China Over Label on College Diplomas


    Published: June 22, 2006

    XINZHENG, China, June 21 – Shengda College in central China has a diverse curriculum, foreign faculty members to teach English and a manicured campus, where weeping willows shade a recreational lake.

    Skip to next paragraph

    Enlarge this Image

    Liu Jin/Agence France-Presse

    Campus security officers stood guard Tuesday at the gate to Shengda College, where a riot erupted on Friday.

    But many students paid the college’s rich tuition – at $2,500 a year one of the highest in China – primarily because Shengda promised that their diplomas would bear the name of its parent, Zhengzhou University, a more prestigious national-level institution, and not mention Shengda at all.

    So when the graduating class of 2006 received diplomas that read “Zhengzhou University Shengda Economic, Trade and Management College,” students erupted last Friday, ransacking classrooms and administrative offices, shattering car windows, scuffling with the police and staging one of the most prolonged student protests since the 1989 pro-democracy uprising that filled Tiananmen Square in central Beijing.

    The protest, still simmering on Shengda’s now tightly guarded campus, reflects the reality that the country’s exploding population of college students must grapple with petty fraud, substandard instruction and an intensely competitive job market. Students, a traditional bellwether of political volatility in China, have become a fresh source of unrest in a society already angered by land grabs, unpaid wages and environmental abuse.

    Once a magic ticket into the government or business elite, college has become an expensive gamble for millions of cash-short families who find that even the most prestigious degrees cannot guarantee success in a market economy.

    The number of college graduates has multiplied fivefold in the last seven years, to an estimated 4.1 million this year. But at least 60 percent of that number are having trouble finding jobs, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

    Students at Shengda, a privately run college with 13,000 students outside Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province, say they were assured on admission, and repeatedly afterward, that they would get graduation certificates that would appear identical to those issued by Zhengzhou, the top university in the province.

    Most Shengda students did not perform well enough on national college entrance exams to enroll at Zhengzhou University itself, where the tuition is about $500 a year. So Shengda’s promise persuaded students and their families to pay unusually steep tuition to gain an edge in the job market. What many of them say they did not know is that under a national regulation phased in beginning in 2003, the college is now required to use its own name on diplomas.

    When this year’s graduating seniors picked up their diplomas on Friday and saw the revised language, the reaction was instantaneous – and incendiary.

    “We bought a Mercedes-Benz and they delivered a Santana,” said one angry graduate, Wang Guangying, referring to a low-priced Volkswagen sedan made in China. “By that night, school officials had totally lost control.”

    Beer bottles rained down from dormitory windows, leaving a carpet of broken glass on the walkways. Television sets and washing machines followed, according to students who participated and photos of the post-riot scene.

    Groups of students marauded around the campus, smashing cars, offices or any piece of property they felt belonged to someone in power. The front gate and a statue of the college’s founder were toppled.

    The local police arrived to break up the protest, but they retreated after they were barraged by bottles and rocks. Riot squads from Zhengzhou arrived about 3 a.m. Saturday, students said, after the violence had begun to subside.

    The authorities sealed the campus and prevented most students from leaving. But marches and sit-ins continued in front of college headquarters through Wednesday, students said. Protesters shouted, “Give back my Zhengzhou University diploma!” Others demanded a refund or a discount on their tuition and a full apology from the headmaster, Hou Heng.

    They scored at least a partial victory. Mr. Hou said Wednesday in a telephone interview that he had resigned after being told to do so by his superiors at Zhengzhou University.



  28. Does anyone know of any low prestige university I can attend to get my MBA for $2,500 tuition and have them put HARVARD UNIVERSITY on my diploma? The Chinese sure know how to make *prestigious* degrees affordable. Hen hao!!!!


  29. “To Buster”: ah, I like the food part. Especially when it’s not poisoned by addictives, pestcides, MSG, antibiotics, drugs …

  30. excellent discussion –

    Even though limiting the growth of population in China is not beneficial to the children’s mindsets, it could be avoided as well as altered (such as how the parents treat their child). After the economy boost, which is likely to happen after 2008, and the dramatic change in government matters and education – the Republic of China would likely become one of the richest nations.

  31. yeah

    the republic of china (ROC) will definitely become one of the world’s richest nation.


  32. how could you all say this about china i live in china, did you even think about what efect it would have on china

    you are all asses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *