China has implemented the One Child Policy for more than 30 years. I have two brothers, and I am among the last generation to have brothers or sisters in the last 30 years. If the policy were enforced earlier, there would be no “me”. Well. In China, there is always a grace period between announcement of a policy and enforcing it.
Recent years, it changed. I don’t know exact the date, but for certain family, they can have two children. The criteria are, the both parents have to be the only child in their family. Before, there is a several year gap between the two children. I heard the interval requirement has been canceled.
Encourage to Have Second Child in Shanghai
At the same time of population pressure, there are aging pressure. In 2050-2070, there will be so many old people for the society to support, but there are so few work force at that time. To solve this problem, to increase the birth rate is a choice.
Shanghai has been in negative birth rate for many years. Shanghai is among the first to publicly encourage people who are both the only one child in their family to have the second child.
Ban at the Same Time
At the same time, people who are not qualified to have the second child still need to follow the one child policy. Violation will subject to fine of 2 times of annual household income, and other punishment. Interestingly, people who are not party member, or working for the government takes advantage here. For most people like myself, there are just huge amount of fine. For party members, and government staff, they face much more severe punishment than myself. They will lose their job, ruin their future, and more interestingly, hugely impact their manager’s future. If they have the second child, their manager will lose their job, and their manager’s manager will look very bad.
So, on one hand, it is not allowed for anyone else to have the second child, and on the other hand, they encourage others to have second child.
The Conflicting Policy
I can understand how this confusing policy comes. In a big system, it is not easy to coordinate different departments, and people to follow the same guideline. It happens in a small company of just few people, and it happens to a big government like that in China.
I believe eventually, the one child policy will expire, but not soon.
ha ha i just want one chilren
I’d like to have another child, and I believe it is good for the children if they have a brother or sister. but I’m afraid I can’t afford, the cost of raising a child in China is huge now.
Capitalism is best for birth control. Look at Japan, Europe, and even United States. Without Immigration,
they will have negative birth rate.
Jianshuowang, I’m speaking here as an outsider– an American by training, though I live and work in 匈牙利 these days. (We actually use German as our business language, like most of Europe increasingly, though the company is encouraging us to learn some Chinese, which is also becoming an important international business language.) China’s One Child Policy actually entered into our discussions and decisions a few months ago. We wanted to establish an Asian office and team up with an Asian partner– negotiations worth billions of dollars– and we initially planned on joining with a partner in China. We work in an area of cutting-edge technology for environmental engineering, and so it’s a long-term investment– we don’t see a profit for many years, or sometimes decades.
Ultimately, our managers rejected China and chose partners in Vietnam and Thailand instead. There were many reasons for this unfortunate decision (the managers were also worried about contract law and intellectual property issues in China, which I realize is still improving), but managers were also worried about the impact of the One Child Policy– especially if it is applied too strictly, and causes too rapid an aging of China’s population and too fast a fall in population. *That* is what foreign companies are worried about.
I was one of the managers who supported joining with a Chinese partner. I actually understand and respect China’s leaders for the One Child Policy– world population in general is just getting too high for the natural resources of the world, and I think that all the world’s countries should implement family planning to encourage small families. (We already have a world population of 6 billion, and many demographers say it will soon reach 9 billion, mostly in poor countries in Africa and the Middle East with little access to water– that’s too high, a major problem that could result in mass famine.) So I think that China has the correct *general* idea, by encouraging small families. That provides a more sustainable world.
But our company’s worries were in the *specifics*. A policy encouraging small families is a good one, but population reduction has to occur gradually and smoothly, to lead to a *stabilization* of a country’s population– otherwise, the country ages too fast, and its economy collapses when it has too few young people to support it. That was the worry of the other managers in the case of China. The other managers in the company were looking at China’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR), which is ideally around 1.9-2 or so– this allows a country’s population to stabilize and very slowly fall, so that it does not age too quickly and maintains a viable economy. However, if most Chinese couples have only one child (and many couples have no children at all), then China has by far the world’s fastest-aging population, the fastest in world history.
So the managers of the company are very worried about the viability of China’s economy in the year 2025 or 2030 if the population has grown so old so fast. They were also worried about social unrest. I’ll state it bluntly– if Han Chinese are having only one child per couple (or often no children at all), while Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang are having 3, 4, 5 or 6 children, then within one generation, Xinjiang and much of western China will have a very large and probably angry Muslim majority in constant rebellion and conflict against the minority Han Chinese, just like we see in Chechnya. This is what’s happened in Lebanon for example, and increasingly happening in places like the UK or much of Australia– different ethnic groups have very different fertility rates, and as one group becomes the vast majority (like the Shiite Muslims in Lebanon), changing the demographic and political balance, this leads to cultural change, tensions, and often outright conflict. The managers are very, very concerned about Xinjiang and western China in the year 2025 if this kind of demographic imbalance continues– no company is going to invest much in a country torn by ethnic and social unrest, caused by such differing fertility rates. (It’s much better if different groups have roughly equal fertility rates in any given region and intermarry to some extent, since this encourages social stability and a better investment climate.) Many companies are worried that western China might become like Lebanon within a generation, and as a result, the managers eventually decided against a China partnership.
I’m not an expert on China’s One Child Policy myself, but I– as an advocate in favor of a China partnership– tried to argue that the One Child Policy is not applied everywhere in the country. (For example, if I recall correctly, rural families often have more than one child, and there are questions about the statistics– in other words, the One Child Policy does not mean strictly “only one child per couple,” it just means that China encourages smaller families with many one-child couples, leading to most families effectively having one-to-two children.) But it didn’t matter– the other managers overruled me and rejected the China option. The managers have heard that China is relaxing the One Child Policy, but they’re still worried it won’t help– once population falls too quickly, it’s difficult to reverse the effect. (Look at European countries like Italy, or places like Canada where the government is trying to encourage couples to have more children– it’s very difficult to do it.)
I realize this is mainly an issue that China itself knows best about (and overall, I think your leaders have a smart, pragmatic approach to most problems these days), but I’m just telling you this to explain how foreign companies throughout the world are worried about the future of China’s economy. I’d say that overall, we agree that China is doing the right thing by encouraging small families, which the entire world really needs to maintain a sustainable population and not overuse our natural resources. But companies do worry that China is implementing this small-family policy too suddenly and too strictly, rather than encouraging a gradual transition that is more manageable and sustainable for China’s economy over the medium and long term– leading to social unrest, as well as China aging too quickly and its population (and market) falling way too fast, and making China a much weaker country overall. Again, many companies are like ours– with lots of research and an investment horizon of 2-3 decades before we can earn a consistent profit. And as I’ve learned, many companies have made decisions like ours– rejecting China partnerships because we’re just too concerned about way-too-rapid population decline, based on the official figures. So China may be losing hundreds of billions of dollars and Euros in investment capital from many companies, because of these concerns.
I realize this is a complicated issue, and I wish you well on it– I’m very much a Sinophile, and I respect China’s ancient cultural achievements and contributions, and hope you continue to prosper. I’m just stating what many foreign companies and investors are thinking.
Just one more small point to add– there are some other countries dealing with the same issues that China is, as far as achieving an ideal stabilization of the population (making sure it does not get too high, but also ensuring it does not fall too fast). So there are some examples to help give useful information on how to handle the situation. It seems that voluntary incentives to encourage modest-sized families– encouraging 2 kids per couple (sometimes more)– give the best results, and modern families throughout the world tend to choose this anyway, with the right incentives. But again, this is why so many companies are concerned about the effects of China’s One Child Policy– even after you reverse it, it’s very difficult to get families to have more than one child, so the population continues to age too fast. (This article gives an example– http://tinyurl.com/mhhcu3 )
Since my office is based in Hungary, I’ve been exposed to the family policies of many European countries. I would say that countries such as Finland, Denmark and Germany probably have the best policies. They provide family leave for both parents and encourage faith in their culture, and so (especially recently), their birth rates– which were quite low– have gone back up to a TFR of about 1.5-2, which is closer to the ideal fertility rate of 1.9-2 to obtain a stabilized population, with a gradual decline. Also, they encourage immigration of skilled workers. Germany, for example, encourages immigration of millions of people from Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Brazil, USA and Australia (often with German family in the past)– they assimilate quickly and adopt the German culture, usually come in with skills, and benefit the German economy. This is why German is increasingly becoming the main business language of Europe, and of the West overall– the German countries generally pursue smart, effective social and demographic policies that ensure a good economy long-term.
In addition to providing incentives to stabilize Chinese fertility rate at about 1.9-2, China might also benefit from low levels of immigration (especially of skilled workers) from Buddhist and Christian countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and Myanmar, and of course from ethnic Chinese and other East Asians (and a few well-educated people from other groups) from countries like North America, Britain and Australia. I would STRONGLY discourage any Muslim immigration– it’s led to disaster in every Western country where it’s occurred at a high level, I’m sorry but I’m just being honest. I was in France in 2006, when Muslim immigrants to France burned down much of Paris in the riots– the French have still never recovered. Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands and Sweden are causing terrible crime and damage to those countries’ wonderful cities.
The worst countries are Canada, the UK and Australia, which have the highest rates of Muslim immigration and as a result, very high levels of crime, riots, social unrest and damage to their cities. (London is becoming a ruined city.) Parts of Canada, UK and Australia will soon have a Muslim majority, like Lebanon, and suffer disaster as a result. It pains me to say that, since there are many Muslims who are hard-working and educated, and who do good things– the problem is, the total numbers do matter, and too many Muslim immigrants are low-skilled and reject the modern world. They also have extremely high fertility rates (Pakistani families in UK often have 9 kids), so they become the majority where they go and cause terrible damage to the host country. China should avoid Muslim immigrants and as said earlier, in Xinjiang, try to make sure Han Chinese have a similar birth rate as the Muslim population and a reliable Han majority, with intermarriage and cooperation– otherwise, Xinjiang would just become like Lebanon, Chechnya, Paris, UK, Australia or Canada, with a growing and angry Muslim majority hurting the society.
I generally agree with what you say on immigration, but I wouldn’t say the Muslim immigrants are the source of all crimes, riots, social unrest and damages.
I have no problem with skilled immigrants at all but the UK has just been taking too many immigrants (Muslims and non-Muslims) who don’t contribute anything.
They also need to rethink their policies and make sure people who are on benefits do not keep on having more children just to get even more benefits from the government. These people are just robbing the majority hard-working taxpayers and making the country such a shithole (look at what’s going on in East London).
Hi Mr Wang,
It is interesting to learn that Shanghai is experiencing lower birth rates, I have thought that China population will still increasing even with the one child policy.
In Singapore, we also have a decreasing birth rate problem, this has prompt the government to introduce new incentives to encourage Singaporeans giving birth.
“For most people like myself” ?????
I know aging socities are a big issue but if you think about this twice, the large population in the world is causing serious damage to the ecology and environment…
maybe this could be a solution in the medium term for some countries but what will happen in the long term? maybe its better to face aging societies and pyramid inversion and later you can build up a better society with the smaller population.
what do you think?
but the other day I read in a local newspaper saying that the low birth rate in Shanghai claimed is not accurate because it only consider the local Shanghainese. It should also take into account at the people who has a Shanghai “hukou” because they are 1/3 of the current population in Shanghai. And it has overlooked the other migrant population from other province. Encouraging a higher birth rate meaning it will bring to a higher population and density to Shanghai. I guess that will lead to other social factors like housing, public facilities, and others.