6. One Child

Non-chronological links:


Articles from 2004–present

2021-05-31. [] - China Says It Will Allow Couples to Have 3 Children, Up From 2. Source: By Sui-Lee Wee, The New York Times.  Excerpt: China said on Monday that it would allow all married couples to have three children, ending a two-child policy that has failed to raise the country’s declining birthrates and avert a demographic crisis. The announcement by the ruling Communist Party represents an acknowledgment that its limits on reproduction, the world’s toughest, have jeopardized the country’s future. The labor pool is shrinking and the population is graying, .... See also Have Three Children? No Way, Many Chinese Say. [] ...Intense workplace competition, inadequate child care and widespread job discrimination against pregnant women have made childbearing an unappealing prospect for many.

2020-06-10. Two-husband strategy may be a remedy for China’s one-child policy, professor posits. By Anna Fifield, The Washington Post. Excerpt: Chinese authorities have been trying for three years to reverse the devastating imbalances of their one-child policy and coax couples to have more children. They’ve told couples that it’s their patriotic duty to have two babies. They’ve dangled tax breaks and housing subsidies. They’ve offered to make education cheaper and parental leave longer. They’ve tried to make it more difficult to get an abortion or a divorce. None of this has worked. China’s birthrate remains stubbornly low and men massively outnumber women, creating a demographic crisis that could hinder economic growth for decades to come. But now, an economics professor at Fudan University in Shanghai has come up with another — and, unsurprisingly, controversial — solution: allow women to have multiple husbands, and they will have multiple babies. ...the traditional preference for sons — and the associated practice of aborting girls — means that there are about 34 million more men than women.... [] 

2018-10-23. China to Abandon Population Target as Birth Policies Loosen. By Bloomberg News.

2018-08-11. Burying ‘One Child’ Limits, China Pushes Women to Have More Babies. By Steven Lee Myers and Olivia Mitchell Ryan, The New York Times.

2015-10-29. China Ends One-Child Policy, Allowing Families Two Children. By Chris Buckley, The New York Times.

2014-07-25. What Do Chinese Dumplings Have to Do With Global Warming?  Excerpt: ...Chen Zemin, the world’s first and only frozen-dumpling billionaire...named his fledgling dumpling company Sanquan, which is short for the “Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China” — the 1978 gathering that marked the country’s first steps toward the open market. ...When Chen founded Sanquan, fewer than one in 10 of his fellow citizens even owned a refrigerator. In the eastern megacities of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, it wasn’t until the late 1980s — as electrical grids became more reliable and families had more disposable income — that refrigerators became a fixture of most homes. the 12 years between 1995 and 2007, China’s domestic refrigerator-ownership numbers have jumped to 95 percent from just 7 percent of urban families. ...China had 250 million cubic feet of refrigerated storage capacity in 2007; by 2017, the country is on track to have 20 times that. At five billion cubic feet, China will surpass even the United States, which has led the world in cold storage ever since artificial refrigeration was invented. And even that translates to only 3.7 cubic feet of cold storage per capita, or roughly a third of what Americans currently have — meaning that the Chinese refrigeration boom is only just beginning. This is not simply transforming how Chinese people grow, distribute and consume food. It also stands to become a formidable new factor in climate change; cooling is already responsible for 15 percent of all electricity consumption worldwide, and leaks of chemical refrigerants are a major source of greenhouse-gas pollution. Of all the shifts in lifestyle that threaten the planet right now, perhaps not one is as important as the changing way that Chinese people eat.... By Nicola Twilley, The New York Times.

2013-11-15. China to Ease Longtime Policy of 1-Child Limit. Excerpt:  HONG KONG — The Chinese government will ease its one-child family restrictions and abolish “re-education through labor” camps, significantly curtailing two policies that for decades have defined the state’s power to control citizens’ lives, the Communist Party said Friday. ...For decades, most urban couples have been restricted to having one child. That has been changing fitfully, with rules on the books that couples can have two children if both parents are single children. But that policy will now be further relaxed nationwide. ...“This is the first time that a central document has clearly proposed allowing two children when a husband or wife is an only child,” said Wang Guangzhou, a demographer at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. ...If carried through, the relaxation would be the first significant nationwide easing of family size restrictions that have been in place since the 1970s, said Wang Feng, a demographer who teaches at both the University of California, Irvine, and Fudan University in Shanghai. He estimated the policy could lead to one million to two million more births in China every year, on top of the approximately 15 million births a year now. ...The one-child restrictions were introduced to deal with official fears that China’s population would devour too many resources and suffocate growth. But they have created public ire and international criticism over forced abortions, and have created a population of 1.34 billion, according to a 2010 census, that is aging relatively rapidly, even before China establishes a firm foothold in prosperity. Experts have for years urged some relaxation of the controls.... Chris Buckley, The New York Times.

2013-01-14.  Study Measures Impact of China’s One-Child Policy | Sindyan N. Bhanoo, The New York Times. Excerpt:  The Chinese policy that limits most families to having one child has had psychological fallout for the children born after it was instituted in 1979, economists report in the journal Science [L. Cameron et al, Little Emperors: Behavioral Impacts of China’s One-Child Policy,].  The researchers asked two groups of people — born just before and just after the policy was put into place — to play a set of games using real money. In a game involving trust, test subjects were paired with anonymous partners. Player One was given 100 renminbi (about $16) and invited to pass it along to Player Two. The money would then be tripled, and Player Two could pass some of it back. Players born after the one-child policy was instituted were less likely to pass money along than the older participants. The researchers concluded that the “one-child-policy” players were less trusting, less trustworthy, less competitive and more risk-averse than the older ones …. Read the full article:

2012-11-28. China considers easing family planning rules | By Michael Martina, Reuters.  Excerpt:   (Reuters) - China is considering changes to its one-child policy,… with government advisory bodies drafting proposals in the face of a rapidly ageing society in the world's most populous nation. Proposed changes would allow for urban couples to have a second child, even if one of the parents is themselves not an only child, …. Under current rules, urban couples are permitted a second child if both parents do not have siblings. Looser restrictions on rural couples means many have more than one child. …Zhang [Weiqing, the former head of the National Population and Family Planning Commission], who serves on China's congressional advisory body, said …"China's population policy has always taken into account demographic changes but any fine-tuning to the policy should be gradual and consider the situation in different areas" …Critics say [the one-child policy] also has fuelled forced abortions and increased social tension stemming from an imbalance in the number of boys and girls. Though forced abortions are illegal in China, officials have long been known to compel women to have the procedures to meet birth-rate targets. This year, debate over the country's strict family planning rules erupted after a woman in the northwestern province of Shaanxi was forced by officials to have an abortion after seven months of pregnancy. …And some say the policy is no longer necessary because the cost of raising children in an increasingly prosperous society is already holding down birth rates. …. Read the full article:

2012-04-14. Nigeria Tested by Rapid Rise in Population | by Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times. Excerpt: LAGOS, Nigeria — In a quarter-century, at the rate Nigeria is growing, 300 million people — a population about as big as that of the present-day United States — will live in a country roughly the size of Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. In this commercial hub, where the area’s population has by some estimates nearly doubled over 15 years to 21 million, living standards for many are falling…. Read the full article:

2011 April 25. IMF bombshell: Age of America nears end. By Brett Arends, MarketWatch. Excerpt: …According to the latest IMF official forecasts, China’s economy will surpass that of America in real terms in 2016 — just five years from now….
…The IMF in its analysis looks beyond exchange rates to the true, real terms picture of the economies using “purchasing power parities.” That compares what people earn and spend in real terms in their domestic economies.
Under PPP, the Chinese economy will expand from $11.2 trillion this year to $19 trillion in 2016. Meanwhile the size of the U.S. economy will rise from $15.2 trillion to $18.8 trillion. That would take America’s share of the world output down to 17.7%, the lowest in modern times. China’s would reach 18%, and rising….

2010 August 20, 45 Billion - Yes, Billion - Chopsticks. By Eric Burkett. Excerpt: Residents of the People’s Republic of China produce 45 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks each year, or 130 million pairs each day...
...The problem? Made from birch and poplar, China’s disposable chopsticks bring down about 100 acres of forests every day, estimates Greenpeace China. That’s 16 to 25 million trees felled each year for a single-use utensil. Across the East China Sea, Japan uses more than 20 billion disposable chopsticks annually, nearly 97 percent of which come from China.
...The government has instituted taxes on the sticks and plenty of citizens – concerned about deforestation of China’s forests – have attempted to convince their compatriots to stick with “real” chopsticks through humorous ad campaigns. Opponents of those efforts insist the chopsticks are important to the economy and argue the country’s disposable stick factories employ 100,000 in economically depressed areas....

2009 Dec 15, In 2025, India to Pass China in Population, U.S. Estimates. By SAM ROBERTS, NY Times. Excerpt: India will become the world's most populous country in 2025, surpassing China, where the population will peak one year later because of declining fertility, according to United States Census Bureau projections released Tuesday.
The bureau suggests that the projected peak in China, 1.4 billion people, will be lower than previously estimated and that it will occur sooner. With the fertility rate declining to fewer than 1.6 births per woman in this decade from 2.2 in 1990, China's overall population growth rate has slowed to 0.5 percent annually.
... China and India alone account for 37 percent of the world's population of about 6.8 billion. Every minute, the bureau's estimates, 250 people are born worldwide and 107 die, for an increase of more than 75 million annually....
... After China and India, the most populous countries are, in order, the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Russia and Japan....

2009 May 28. India, Enlightened. By George Black, NRDC OnEarth. Raise a Billion People out of Poverty Without Destroying the Environment. Can It Be Done?

2008 Summer. Global Appetites: How Better Nutrition, Sustainable Fuel Accelerated the Food Emergency. Dr. Mark Rosegrant, The Interdependent, Vol. 6 No. 2. pages 12-13. Excerpt: Some of today's global food woes are the unintended consequences of success, according to Dr. Mark Rosegrant of the International Food Policy Research Institute. He looks at warnings over the past decade, how new prosperity brought better nutrition for millions and how the quest for alternative fuels to protect the planet actually set the stage for trouble. "Biofuels Blamed in Food Cost"...

2008 July. Coal in China. by Richard Heinberg, MuseLetter 195. Excerpt: China is the world's foremost coal producer and consumer, surpassing the United States by a factor of two on both scores and accounting for 40 percent of total world production. Moreover, its coal consumption has been rising rapidly, at a rate of up to ten percent per year (which translates to a doubling of demand every 7 years). While China is a significant producer of oil and natural gas, coal dominates the nation's fossil-fuel reserve base. About 70 percent of China's total energy is derived from coal, and about 80 percent of its electricity. The country has recently become the world's foremost greenhouse gas emitter due to its growing, coal-fed energy appetite. ... The nation's short-term survival strategy thus centers on producing enormous quantities of coal today, and far more in the future.
However, there are signs that China's domestic coal production growth may not be able to keep up with rising demand for much longer.
... The supply problems discussed here appear already to be manifesting. During the winter of 2007-2008, power plants in many parts of the country ran short of coal due to soaring prices and transport bottlenecks, while snow and ice storms disrupted power transmission. A People's Daily article, quoting Zhang Guobao, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, noted that only a "fragile balance" existed in the thermal coal market despite huge and growing coal output. During that same winter, prices for internationally traded coal climbed substantially.
... China's furious pace of economic growth, which is often touted as a sign of success, may turn out to be a fatal liability. Simply put, the nation appears to have no Plan B. No fossil fuel other than coal will be able to provide sufficient energy to sustain current economic growth rates in the years ahead, and non-fossil sources will require unprecedented and perhaps unachievable levels of investment just to make up for declines in coal production-never mind providing enough to fuel continued annual energy growth of seven to ten percent per year....

26 August 2007. As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes. The New York Times. By JOSEPH KAHN and JIM YARDLEY.Excerpt: BEIJING, Aug. 25 - No country in history has emerged as a major industrial power without creating a legacy of environmental damage that can take decades and big dollops of public wealth to undo. China's cement factories... use 45 percent more power than the world average, and its steel makers use about 20 percent more. But just as the speed and scale of China's rise as an economic power have no clear parallel in history, so its pollution problem has shattered all precedents. Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party. ...Pollution has made cancer China's leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water.
...For air quality, a major culprit is coal, on which China relies for about two-thirds of its energy needs. It has abundant supplies of coal and already burns more of it than the United States, Europe and Japan combined. But even many of its newest coal-fired power plants and industrial furnaces operate inefficiently and use pollution controls considered inadequate in the West.
...Emissions of sulfur dioxide from coal and fuel oil, which can cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as acid rain, are increasing even faster than China's economic growth.... Other major air pollutants, including ozone, an important component of smog, and smaller particulate matter, called PM 2.5, emitted when gasoline is burned, are not widely monitored in China.
...Perhaps an even more acute challenge is water. China has only one-fifth as much water per capita as the United States. But while southern China is relatively wet, the north, home to about half of China's population, is an immense, parched region that now threatens to become the world's biggest desert. ...In many parts of China, factories and farms dump waste into surface water with few repercussions. China's environmental monitors say that one-third of all river water, and vast sections of China's great lakes, the Tai, Chao and Dianchi, have water rated Grade V, the most degraded level, rendering it unfit for industrial or agricultural use.
...Officials have rejected proposals to introduce surcharges on electricity and coal to reflect the true cost to the environment. The state still controls the price of fuel oil, including gasoline, subsidizing the cost of driving.

6 April 2007. To Fortify China, Soybean Harvest Grows in Brazil. By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO, NY Times. Excerpt: RONDONîPOLIS, Brazil - For more than 2,000 years, the Chinese have turned soybeans into tofu, a staple of the country's diet. But as its economy grows, so does China's appetite for pork, poultry and beef, which require higher volumes of soybeans as animal feed. Plagued by scarce water supplies, China is turning to a new trading partner 15,000 miles away - Brazil - to supply more protein-packed beans essential to a richer diet. China's global scramble for natural resources is leading to a transformation of agricultural trading around the world. In China, vanishing cropland and diminishing water supplies are hampering the country's ability to feed itself, and the increasing use of farmland in the United States to produce biofuels is pushing China to seek more of its staples from South America, where land is still cheap and plentiful. ...The Chinese want to connect directly with Brazilian farmers, bypassing the multinational grain merchants. While they have yet to make a major purchase of cropland in Brazil, they are looking to invest in improved facilities and upgrade the antiquated rail system.
China began looking overseas for more soybean supplies in the mid-1990s, when the scope of its land and water problems became clearer. Beijing has also chosen to use more of its arable farmland to grow fruits and vegetables, crops that make better use of China's cheap labor and scarcer water supplies to generate higher returns on the export market....


9 May 2005. "We Want to Push the Limits" BY CRAIG SIMONS. Newsweek. These Chinese road warriors seek fun, thrills and freedom. ...Yuan Jun likes to have his foot on the gas. Wearing rose-colored glasses and a tan aviator vest; he rests one hand on the steering wheel of his Toyota Land Cruiser and holds a CB radio mike in the other. ...He's busy snapping instructions into the CB for a line of SUVs-Jeep Grand Cherokees; Isuzu Rodeos; Nissan Paladins-strung along the highway behind us. Since he bought his first car in 1991, Yuan figures he's clocked more than 600,000 miles, .... "In the city," he says, "everything seems the same--the same work, the same people, the same experiences. On the road, it's all new." That restless spirit-the urge for novel experiences, the quest for new frontiers, the possibilities for escape and renewal, even the willingness to slog through traffic to get to work--has long fueled America. Now it's gripping China. Even 10 years ago, when the average American spent nearly an hour driving each day, the Chinese owned only 10.4 million vehicles, almost all of them in government and corporate fleets. Today that number has grown to more than 23 million. New sales surged 82 percent in 2003 and 11 percent last year, even after Beijing slapped curbs on bank loans to slow its red-hot economy. More than 40 million Chinese have driver's licenses, and a 2003 survey by Swiss consulting firm CBC found that 40 percent of Chinese families are planning to buy new automobiles. "Cars have given people a chance to pursue freedom," says Beijing University sociologist Xia Xue Ian. "They have opened up a space for private life." ...Beijing has pumped billions of dollars into making travel easier. The length of China's highway network is second only to the United States and the government announced in January that it will spend $200 billion over the next 25 years to nearly triple that; total mileage is expected to surpass America's around 2020. ... A few miles up the road we pulled into a dusty Sinopec gas station and topped up with 93-octane fuel. Compared with the U.S., the price of $1.84 a gallon is low, but for most Chinese, filling up an SUV would cost at least a weeks earnings. ...China's thrill ride has obvious costs. Since 1985, the number of people killed on Chinese roads has increased fivefold: in 2003, more than 104,000 Chinese were killed in traffic accidents, more than double the U.S. total-even though the U.S. has almost nine times as many cars. Another cost is the price of oil: while Mideast instability and other factors have contributed to recent $56 per barrel prices, so has Chinese consumption-China's oil imports doubled over the past five years, much of that to fuel the country's transportation boom. The longer-term shifts are also ominous. According to the World Wildlife Fund, China already produces 16 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions, and within 30 years it's expected to contribute as much to climate change as the U.S., currently responsible for a quarter of the world's carbon dioxide pollution. If every Chinese citizen consumed as much energy as Americans do, China would use all the petroleum currently produced in the world. Chinese scientists have tracked some of the 46,000 glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau with increasing alarm. Some scientists predict that rising temperatures will melt most of China's glaciers within this century, taking with them the sources of Asia's greatest rivers-the Yangtze, the Yellow, the Indus, the Mekong.Yuan understands the dangers, but he notes that Americans now are having more impact on the global environment. And what are they doing about it? "We want to enjoy the best life we can have," he says. ...


14 September 2004. NY Times. Rivers Run Black, and Chinese Die of Cancer As urbanites demand better air and water, China's countryside is increasingly becoming a dumping ground.

April 2004. Issue of The Gazette, Volume IV, Issue IV, (from Population Connection) has updates on changes to China's One-Child Policy.

14 April 2004. Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report. Chinese Province Relaxes One-Child Policy; Divorced Couples Who Remarry Allowed Second Child in Shanghai.

12 April 2004. Social Effects of One-Child Policy Arise (From "'One Child' Generation Grows Up to Face Strained Family Relations." Xinhua General News Service). A recent survey conducted by a Chinese family education research group found that overall strained family relations are one product of China's controversial one-child policy. Chinese culture has nicknamed China's first one child generation as "little emperors," as these children were a main focus in the lives of their parents and grandparents. Now as these children are becoming adults and leaving home, their upbringing tends to have multigenerational affects. The survey found that as many as 60 percent of one-child couples are unable to handle parenting and have turned to their own parents for a large amount of the childcare duties. Also, the parents of this one child generation feel neglected as their grown-up children, the main focus of their lives for many years, are often too busy to spend any time with them. China has also seen a rise in marital conflict because the participants in one-child couples tend to have very strong characters and are not very capable of resolving conflict. In order to prevent this trend from trickling down to the next generation, sociologists suggest working on traits like tolerance and practicing conflict management techniques at an early age and integrating these skills into early childhood education curricula.

8 April 2004. Sex Imbalance Alarms India. (From "Sex Ratio Imbalance Alarms India." United Press International.) In a situation similar to one that China is facing, the results of India's 2001 census indicate an increasing shortage of girls. In 1991, just ten years before, 945 girls were being born for every 100 males. The 2001 number dropped to 927 girls for every 1000 males. This produces a shortage of 35 million girls. Traditionally a patriarchal society, India is claiming that the intense desire for boy children has lead to a pattern of selective abortions. India had previously banned both sex determination tests and selective abortions nationwide. Social activists and health officials said that, despite the regulations, female feticide is occurring all over the country. In specific regions, numbers have dropped as low as 793 females for every 1000 males. As always, any sex imbalance can lead to several possible consequences of a large male to female gap, such as an increase in crime, a decrease in women's rights and impacts on national and international politics.