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May 20, 2008

China`s One Child Policy: Not Just A Cruel Measure

Here in a land of single family homes surrounded by miles of land it is hard to imagine what it might be like to live in a place where there are people on all sides. Early this year National Geographic published an article about China. In one of the photos 2000 people were getting off of work at shift change. Now this does not sound like a spectacular photo but it truly was. The mass of people spread the width and length of the street. A sea of beautiful pale blue uniforms filled up the entire photograph. It was something that I can’t really grasp. I can’t maneuver through New York City so I really can not fathom a people crunch like that.

This is why the one child measure that is causing great sorrow in the wake of that massive earthquake, was put in place. Decades before many of us that are criticizing the one child policy were born, starvation was wide spread throughout China. Tens of thousands of people died, in part because of Chairman Mao’s ideas and philosophies during “The Great Leap Forward”, but also because there was a massive population. Something had to be done to stop the constant additions to the population. Thus, the one child policy was born.

The one child policy applies to Han Chinese and has been a law since 1979. Families that have more children are fined and permission to have more is generally denied. There are 1.3 billion people in China and as the country becomes more industrialized the environment becomes more unstable. There are towns where the sun is completely blocked out by smog from factories. There are many problems in China and one is caused by having so many people.

Lineage was very important traditional Chinese society. Only males could carry on the family lineage so make children were desired. This train of thought was carried over to some extent to modern China and has been the cause of some infanticide over the years. This is also why the proportion of Chinese males in China is higher than females. There were also families that would have children and continue to have them until they got a son. This could take many births and it was this practice that lad to the overpopulation of China in the first place. However, as time passes, female children are becoming a little more accepted and many of the women in China are opting to have careers instead of families.

The Chinese government may seem cruel to have the one child measure in effect but it was brought about by necessity. The world can only hold so many people and as the population grows world wide, something must be done. A global food shortage has already been speculated by some and we all know that natural resources are limited. However, with 90 million only children in the country, every measure possible must be taken to make sure that when disasters strikes, as few children perish as possible. There are rural farm families that have all of their hope pinned on their one and only child. Parents’ that work hard to make sure that their child could get a good education. Now their quest to create the best life possible for their one child is over and there is nothing that can be done to heal their pain.

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