Sunday, March 10, 2013

Population Control

You've heard of China's "One Child Policy".  But what does it really mean?  How is it enforced?

It's a complicated topic and honestly, I'm still learning.  It seems that every time I have a conversation about this, I'm learn something else about it.  Lately pregnancy, birth control,  and child birth have frequent topics of conversation as many of my local friends are getting married and starting their families.  I still don't have all the answers, but I'll tell it as I understand it thus far.

In 1978-79, a law was passed in order to control the rapidly increasing population of the Chinese people.   This law limits each woman to one child.  There are some exceptions to the law.
  • If the first child is a girl, the woman is sometimes allowed to have a second child.
  • If both the mother and father are only children, they are allowed to have 2 children.
  • If the parents are farmers, they are often permitted to have more children.
  • If the parents are non-Han Chinese, meaning they are a minority, the law does not apply.
  • In the case of a multiple child birth, the law is waved.
  • Those wishing to (domestically) adopt an orphan are often given permission for another child.
  • I'm not sure if exceptions are made in the case of the death of a child.
It seems like such a strict law, and it is.  But the population has for the first time ever come under control.  It's so easy for outsiders to say how unfair and unjust the law is, but if you've ever been to China, you'll see just how big of a problem over crowding is. Simply put, the land can only support so many people.

As far as enforcement goes, it's a tough one.  I was always under the impression that if you chose to have a second child, you could just pay a hefty fine (followed by extra school fees, registration fees, etc throughout the child's life), and be on with it.  As I'm talking to people though, I'm finding that's not the case.  What I always though was a "fine" is really money being passed under the table.

After a woman becomes pregnant, she is required to obtain permission to give birth.  When she is  pregnant (and beyond 1st trimester), she must travel to her hometown to get some kind of permission slip saying she can legally have the baby.  Without this piece of paper, a doctor is not allowed to deliver the baby.  Without this paper, the baby cannot get an ID card (imagine birth certificate, social security card, and school ID card all wrapped into one--you can't live without it), and most importantly will never be able to go to school.

So when a woman does have an "illegal" baby, she will need to somehow "convince" the officials in her hometown to give birth permission slip.  The doctor delivering the child will also be given a monetary gift because he knows this is not the first child the woman has had.  Then when it comes time to get an ID card, there's even more convincing that must go on.

Many people who have this all figured out run into even more trouble with their (or their husband's) employer.  Employers are charged with keeping watch over their employees.  This includes keeping them out of trouble with the law AND making sure they don't have more children than they are legally entitled to.  If a someone has an illegal baby, the employer will be fined, and the employee will most likely be fired.  Once again, the way around this is for the parents to reimburse the employee for the fine and throw in some extra cash to compensate for the inconvenience.

I'm not too sure about how true this is, but I've also heard that there is some way for an "illegally birthed baby" to obtain a legal ID card without all the pay-offs by simply waiting till a census comes around.  Since the baby is counted in the census, they are given and ID card.  Of course this will only work for the family if the baby is under say 5 years old when it's time for the census because that ID card is needed to begin elementary school.

No doubt, you can see how many people could face a moral dilemma of significant proportions.  The desire to have multiple children goes against the desire to be an upright, law-abiding citizen.  Children are a blessing and a gift, but we are commanded to obey the laws of the land.

For most, the compromise and answer comes only through various forms of birth control and abortion, but that's a whole other topic that you can read about here.   I also have a post  about my recent experience with sex-ed and a friend who is about to be married, and you will soon be able to read about that here.

It's difficult at times to live in this country with our 3 children, while those around us only dream of the children they are not permitted to have.

1 comment:

Darrell Six said...

Hey Josh-

Thanks for posting this. The one child policy is actually not that complicated of an issue (though how it plays out in Chinese society may be). It's demonic in its inspiration and the gravest, vilest human rights violation in the history of mankind in its execution.

Judging from the pictures on your blog, my guess is that you're trying to be salt and light in Changsha. This is one issue we can't lose our salt on. It's not love to coddle the Chinese and tell them that the one child policy is a complicated, difficult issue. It's a horrible policy that, strictly just a sociological point of view, may potentially destroy the whole nation. Thinking Chinese understand this.

The idea that, "The land can only support so many people," simply is not Biblical. Around 200 A.D., Tertullian is famed to have said, "Our numbers are burdensome to the world, which can hardly support us... " (The population was around 200 million people at that time.) Humankind's stewardship of the earth, rather than our numbers, is the bigger factor.

I hope my little push back here will simply encourage us to be very thoughtful as we look at the culture around us. It's easy to have our thinking conformed to the norm that we are constantly exposed to. I am confident that the work resulting from your faith is pleasing to the Father even as you are totally pleasing to Him in Christ.

Kind regards,

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