Monday, June 15, 2009

One-Child Policy Shmolicy

As China's economy develops and allows its people greater flexibility of movement, its arcane one-child policy is becoming more and more difficult to enforce. Particularly amongst the ultra-rich.

From The Telegraph:

Image from CBS News

In China's cities, the fines for having a second child can run up to 200,000 yuan (£20,000). The payment is intended to cover the schooling and healthcare costs of additional children.

However, wealthy parents are now either paying the fines outright, finding a way around them, or travelling to Hong Kong where no permit is needed, according to the government.

Between 2001 and 2008, nearly 78,000 babies were born in Hong Kong to parents registered as living on the mainland.


"Due to the rising mobility of Chinese citizens and the social transformation from the country's reform and opening up from the late 1970s, it has become tougher to regulate the policy," he said.


In addition, the government has gone on the offensive against public figures with multiple children, in order to set an example. "The fine is a piece of cake for the rich, the government had to hit them harder where it really hurt, at their fame, reputation and standing in society," said Zhai Zhenwu, a sociology professor with Renmin University of China.

Celebrities have been barred from public shows or television programmes and businessmen have been blocked from receiving government contracts.

Read On
It makes sense to me that the most well off in a society are the ones who crave freedom the most. Wealthy Chinese families have big apartments, cars, and everything else they want. I'm not surprised to hear that they also want to have as many kids as they like.

As China's economy yields more and more rich people and a larger middle-class, some of the questionable policies and rules being enforced in the country are going to face greater scrutiny. The internet (assuming it's not completely blocked out at some point) and cultural influences from outside the country will also help show Chinese people what else is out there in the world.

The one-child policy has already wreaked an amazing amount of havoc on millions and millions of people. And its going to create a plethora of unfathomable problems in the future as well.

It'll be interesting to see when the country decides to cut its losses on the policy and let its people have as many children as they want. I understand that there are 1.3 billion people in the country, etc. etc. But I don't buy that society would fall apart if the policy were lifted. There will hopefully be a point in the future when it's decided that the whole thing is more trouble than its worth.


Thomas said...

How many half-Chinese kids do you plan to have...?

grayspirit said...

If China looks at Japan and Europe and see the kinds of problems they are having with an aging population, they might start to rethink the one child policy or immigration policies.

Nice blog. Posted a review and link to it on my blog.

Gary said...

It's a well known fact that rich and famous people do not have to go by the same rules that the rest of us do. Officials always say everyone is treated the same, but the facts show a different story.

pug ster said...

I don't see what's wrong with the Middle class and the Rich bypassing loopholes into having more kids. Here in the US, it it mostly the dumb and the poor who are having more kids, while most the middle class and the Rich only have 2 kids at the most. That's why the US have to rely on giving out H1B visas from abroad.

Anonymous said...

Another lame article bashing one child policy...

Imagine the shitstorm china would get on poverty, global warming, overpopulation etc etc etc etc... if one child policy wasn't erected and population is 2 billion. Why the hell would China want to be like India with their unchecked growth in population?

China is working to reduce its population, policy is working as intended.

Mark said...

@Thomas - 2.3 sounds nice. :) How many mix-reeds do you have?

@Grayspirit - Thanks a lot for the review on your site. I appreciate it. That's a really professional site you've got there.

@Gary - I'm pretty sure what you're talking about is the norm everywhere in every country. It's sad.

@Pugster - There is nothing wrong with rich people having more than one kid. At least it's not a problem in any country outside of China. The point of this post is to point out what's going on in China's antiquated system.

Ramesh said...

Actually, China may find that it doesn't need a one child policy to control its population. With increasing education and economic prosperity, automatically people have less children. Someday China may learn, that in many areas (including internet policing), a light touch is better than a heavy hand.

pug ster said...


China is definately loosening the 1 child policy. In some areas, they loosen the policy where the first child is a girl, they are allowed to have a 2nd child. In other areas, when 2 people married are the only siblings in their family, they are allowed to have more than 1 children. I don't think it is like the old days where women are forced to have their tubes tied after giving birth to a child.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. It reminds me of the family planning policy put forth by Lee Kwan Yu, former prime minister of Singapore, and how that policy changed with times. But the impact in China's changing (assuming it's changing) one-child policy is so huge that China and the world might not be able to afford the resources for such change. I cannot imagine a situation when the number of students is doubled at the gaokao and more tham half of them cannot find jobs.

Mark said...

Good points Ramesh and Pugster.

I completely agree with Ramesh's point. China does love the heavy hand.

But as Pugster points out, things are loosening. I truly do think that things will change significantly in the coming years with regards to the one-child policy.

Thomas said...


None so far. And Yinghong is adamant that she doesn't want to have more than one. Nearly all of her Shanghai friends agree (actually, many of her female friends aged 32-35 are still single, with no husband in sight).

Mark said...

That's interesting, Thomas. Qian and I haven't really talked about this a ton, but it seems to me like she'd be open to more than one. To me, two is the best.

One thing I'm curious about is whether your wife is deathly afraid of child-birth. I swear to god that I constantly hear young Chinese women discuss the horrors of having a child.

That seems to be a big factor in a lot of women only wanting one child.

Thomas said...

She's not really afraid of child-birth as such. But she thinks that the whole pregnany thing is bad for your health, weakens the body, etc., and that's apparently a major part of the reason why she prefers to have only one kid.

Anonymous said...

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Would you like to talk more about partnering with All Girls Allowed or linking to each other? The website is Please email for more details.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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