The end of October this year witnessed the end of China’s one-child policy, which has existed as a major national social policy in the world’s most populous country for over three decades.
The media reactions are mixed. China’s mainstream news agencies, for instance, China Daily, celebrate this decision, indicating that Chinese families will embrace more children and the Chinese economy will welcome more labor. In their optimistic estimations, the introduction of two-child policy will effectively ease the aging problem China faces today. On micro level, the two-child policy is claimed to meet the needs of having a second child for Chinese families. At the end of 2013, Chinese government began to allow couples nationwide to have a second child if either parent is an only child. There were more than 53,000 couples in Beijing who have applied for a second child right after the relaxation of this family plan policy.
However, voices outside of China responded to the policy critically. “The real problem with the one-child policy”, said Women’s Rights without Frontiers, “was not that Chinese couples were restricted to one child, but that they were restricted at all. Limiting couples to two children is still in violation of a couple’s human rights, and using methods such as forced sterilization and forced abortion to ensure couples follow the policy further violates those rights.” Moreover, Frett argued on Time that similar with the one-child policy, two-child policy also contradicts with the universal access to reproductive rights written in UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Sen even pointed out that fertility reduction in China, India and around the globe is due to women’s schooling and women’s paid employment, and the policy will have little impact on Chinese families.
But seldom did they touch upon the issue of education and the policy’s impact on China’s pre-school and primary school system. The reality is, raising a child in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou is extremely pricy. The cost includes purchasing the best quality of baby formula overseas (thanks to globalization), paying extra money or even bribes to get the kids into prestigious local kindergartens and primary schools, and planning for endless extra-curriculum trainings such as dancing classes, painting classes and piano classes. For most of the parents living in big cities, worries and anxieties on children’s education start even before they are born. For rural areas, shortage of good public primary schools and limited sittings in class have long been the headaches of most parents. Having more babies in this country simply means having more children waiting to be fed and educated. Is China ready to provide more educational resources and services to the youth?
One good news about this policy on education is that “one couple, one child” will no longer be a fundamental national policy written in textbooks and major standard tests for primary and middle school students. Like many people of my generation, one-child policy is taught as natural and justified throughout my school years. The abolishment of this dominant social policy maybe a starting point to see the political education in China in a different light.
China to Allow Two Children for All Couples. (2015). China Daily. Retrieved from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2015-10/29/content_22312495.htm
Flanders, Nancy. (2015). Under China’s Two Child Policy, there will still be ‘hundreds of women crying each day’. Life Site. Retrieved from https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/under-chinas-two-child-policy-there-will-still-be-hundreds-of-women-crying
Frett, Latanya Mapp. (2015). The End of China’s One-Child Policy Isn’t Enough. Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/4098745/china-one-child-policy-rights
Jiang, Steven. (2015). China One-child Policy: Member of First Generation Looks back at Rule’s Impact. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/29/asia/china-one-child-policy-personal-take/index.html
Jiang, Steven, & Cullinane, Susannah. (2015). China’s One-child Policy to End. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/29/asia/china-one-child-policy/index.html
More than 53,000 Beijing Couples Opt for Second Child. (2015). Xinhua News. Retrieved from http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-10/25/c_134747990.htm
Nathan, Amy L. (2015). Why China’s New “Two Child” Policy Means Zero in its Big Cities. The World Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-l-nathan/why-chinas-new-two-child-rule_b_8447416.html
Sen, Amartya (2015). Women’s Progress Outdid China’s One-Child Policy. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/02/opinion/amartya-sen-womens-progress-outdid-chinas-one-child-policy.html?_r=0
United Nations. (2015). “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. United Nations. Retrieved from https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld