Mei Fong Speaks at MC: China’s One Child Policy

What happens when citizens of the world’s most populous nation can only have one child per household? One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment details the result of China’s social policy.

Last Tuesday International journalist and pulitzer prize winner Mei Fong spoke to the Montgomery College Community about the results of China’s One Child Policy.

Fong discussed her book and all the consequences the enforced quota meant for the world’s second largest economy and its people.

“For an entire generation [over 35 years] a third of Chinese society was subject to one child as part of a social policy,” said Fong.

“I thought this was a fascinating subject because it brought fiction to reality in an all inclusive way,” said Fong when asked why she decided to write this book.

In the 1960s China was experiencing a cultural revolution, which involved an attack against the educated, disregarding the military scientist who went on to devise the One Child Policy to target the perceived problem of China’s overpopulated country.

In modern china 90% of the urban population has only one child.

“A third of Chinese society was subject to this rule and it made for extreme consequences like the thirty million extra men that contribute to China’s one billion population,” said Fong.

With drastic differences across gender such as the problem mentioned above China will face many serious issues in the future. Some of these issues include the lack of youth that will be available to sustain the soon to be abundant senior population in China, particularly urban areas.

Many families only have one child and so this means the amount of potential adults to sustain a profitable pension for the aging Chinese population will be at an all time shortage.

The lack of youth who will be able to care for their parents in the near future also goes against the beliefs of the Chinese structure.

“Filiopietism is big in China,” said Fong. The belief that one owes a lot to their parents is a respected tradition in the Asian country. The threats that One Child Policy poses to cultural aspects such as this one are just one of the many difficult dilemmas the Chinese will soon face.

“One Child Policy has not only affected the extreme aspect of Chinese life, but also the everyday life of the normal person. Things such as marriage, type of job, and crime are also ripple effects of this policy as well,” said Fong.

According to Fong, citizens in China invest dearily in their children seeing that a majority of the population only has one child. The pressure to procure the most suitable and most eligible offspring becomes detrimental, as fines are required if more than one child is desired. A cost many Chinese citizens cannot afford.

Punishments such as demolition to property, detainment, and hefty fines are result if a family doesn’t abide by the policy’s strict and ever-changing quota.

“The government maintained the idea that the One Child Policy fostered a better economy, and allowed the existing people more access to the resources available,” said Fong.

Around China you can find propoganda posters and graffiti art advocating slogans such as “less Children, more trees” and “without a marriage don’t have kids.”

“China is a family oriented nation and there are societal pressures to raise a family and have children,” said Fong, but what happens when there is no one to marry your child to? Or you lose that one child and cannot afford to raise another?

It is clear that although the One Child Policy did its job at reducing the large Chinese population and boosting its economy, it also created a new set of issues both present and in the future that the Chinese will have to face.

“The lesson to learn from China is that not one size fits all, there is no one way to do things that is a guaranteed solution to something that may not even be problematic. China is the example of what not to do,” said Fong in conclusion to her discussion.

Her book One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment can be found online at amazon.com