When I was born, I was put up for adoption. I’m almost positive it was a direct result of China’s one-child policy.
Over the summer, my mom and I traveled to China, making it our first time back since I was adopted in 1997.
With every new city we visited, there was one similarity that particularly caught my eye: the abundance of kids everywhere. Chinese parents were entirely invested in their kids in a way that I had never seen in the United States.
The day we visited my orphanage landed coincidentally on International Children’s Day, and virtually every store in the city had sales for the country's “little emperors.”
I was told that this affection toward children was in part caused by China’s one-child policy, which shaped how families lived for decades.
China’s one-child policy, which limited married couples to have only one child, was formally introduced in 1979 and officially became law in 1980. The controversial policy was China’s response to the country’s rapidly growing population that was supported by Chairman Mao Zedong, who believed that a large population was key for the nation’s success and who encouraged having large families.
Heavily criticized by world organizations which declared that it was a violation of fundamental human rights, the one-child policy resulted in a lot of problems China now faces today, including an aging population and an unbalanced ratio of men to women.
What is it?
Last Thursday, the Chinese government proposed a “two-child policy.” Simply put, starting in March 2016, every married couple in China can now have up to two children.
...But don’t be so fast to rejoice.
What does this mean?
Most issues caused by the one-child policy will not be erased overnight.
According to The Economist, abolishing the one-child policy will underwhelm, insisting that just because it is legal now does not necessarily mean that women will now have more children.
According to New York Times columnist Amartya Sen, we should actually thank women instead of the one-child policy for the decrease in fertility.
Men in China searching for a Chinese bride will still have a hard time doing so because of the gender imbalance, and millions of Chinese women cannot even have a second child because of forced sterilization imposed by the government.
The ending of the one-child policy era might not change some of these problems, but it is a small step in a more progressive direction.
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