Mao Zedong was the founder of People’s Republic of China, which was finally formed after a period of a long civil war, in 1949. After carrying out mass executions and penalty deaths amounting to around sixty five million in order to execute the communist laws, the population of China dropped severely under his rule. In 1965, he began encouraging population growth and condemned birth control. According to Mao,
“Even if China’s population multiplies many times, she is fully capable of finding a solution; the solution is production, “Of all things in the world, people are the most precious.”
He said that China’s expanding population was a good thing, and that population control was a tool used by imperialist powers to weaken the rising states. Subsequently, import of contraceptives was banned, birth control was increasingly condemned. A few years into this campaign, China saw a large hike in population growth and some officials began to worry over it when food supply began to fall short. In 1955, birth control initiatives were taken, but curbed by the Great Leap Forward, in 1958. According to the secretary of Communist Youth League Hu Yaobang,
“A larger population means greater manpower,”The force of 600 million liberated people is tens of thousands of times stronger than a nuclear explosion.”
This was at a time when Mao Zedong strongly emphasized Industrialization over Agriculture. Farming was given a back seat, and so food supply was naturally strained. In 1962, a massive famine caused around thirty million deaths in China, after which many steps were taken to control population. Between 1970 and 1976, population growth was seen considerably controlled, but that was soon negligible when it hiked again soon. In 1976, Mao Zedong died and China’s new leadership took the population issue very seriously.
It seems that China has always felt the need to interfere with population growth. In 1979, China executed the one child policy. Only one child was allowed to one couple and if any more children were produced, the families were fined, their privileges were taken away and the children were called Black children. In many many cases, abortions were forced upon pregnant women, and sterilization was also carried out, ordered by the government officials. All of this was done to control the growing population and decrease the problems caused by population hike, but if the enforcers had any foresight, they’d have guessed the drastic effects this would have on the future of China. Even though the one child policy was temporary, it still continues after half a century, to the point that China’s population is now in peril, not because of under-population but because of the vast disbalance between genders consequent to the law, and because it is well-known that Chinese culture gives more virtue to male gender. Infanticide of female children also became common in China, because couples preferred a male child over a female. To control this, the Chinese government put a ban on prenatal gender screening.
As with every story, this one too has its bright areas. According to a report by Times, “Since 1979, the law has prevented some 250 million births, saving China from a population explosion the nation would have difficulty accommodating.”
The one child policy has been restricted to the ethnic Han majority of China which constitute ninety one percent of China’s population. In rural areas, couples are either allowed more children or given relaxation in the law.
According to another source, “This rule has caused a disdain for female infants; abortion, neglect, abandonment, and even infanticide have been known to occur to female infants. The result of such Draconian family planning has resulted in the disparate ratio of 114 males for every 100 females among babies from birth through children four years of age. Normally, 105 males are naturally born for every 100 females.”
And keeping that in view, China first relaxed the policy by allowing millions of couples to have a second child if they themselves were singletons (sole child of a couple in compliance with the policy), and if they took permits. Recently, China has taken another step. In early 2006, relevant officials said that the one child policy remains intact, for indefinite periods of time. Following this in 2015, Chinese government announced that the one child ban will be lifted in 2016. And now that 2016 is here, all couples will be allowed to have two children! The one child ban has been lifted for good, and this will be further finalized in March.
According to Xinhua, a chinese news agency, “To promote a balanced growth of population, China will continue to uphold the basic national policy of population control and improve its strategy on population development,” and hence, implement the policy of ‘one couple, two children’. So what does China have on the cards now? A baby boom. According to estimates, the number of new babies born in China every year may go from 16 million to somewhere between 20 million and 24 million.
The one child policy has had several pros and cons. It helped with the population problem which caused strain in food supply, it eased the levels of poverty, and proved to be cause of certain privileges to those who complied. Living standards have been seen to improve vastly. And what were the cons? High rates of compliant and forced abortions, sterilization, infanticides, gender imbalance, and many psychological issues ensued as a result of only one child for parents to dote over. On the singleton children, high stress and pressure has been recorded due to all that responsibility and expectations on their shoulders.
Whatever the means we humans turn to, we do not control the supernatural affairs. Birth control is still a very controversial issue, and China has not set a very golden example for us. It is not wrong to consider all factors; social and economic, when considering to start a family, but it is wrong to force birth or death. It is wrong to control how many children a couple has, it is wrong to turn to contraceptives and abortions and infanticide in order to control population. After all, you can’t stop a human who is destined to come into the world.
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