In this Essay, I analyze the ethics of the One Child Policy and how this regime-mandated population rule influences the people living in China. This essay commences with a summary of the rule with the historic background of the rule and how it used to be applied. Then I attempt into presenting one unintended consequence that has been caused by the “one child’s policy” of (Fong’s, 2016) book and present other authors’ views backed with evidence that supports my argument. I am expanding a range of sources to obtain a perception of the One Child Policy and how its implementation has affected the nation. Another interesting argument by (Nanfu Wang, 2019) has announced an interesting documentary that used subjective testimony to highlight the increased apprehensions of the One Child Policy. I used this documentary as an inspiration of power for what issues and penalties of the rule to examine deep through the policy. There are themes to be presented such as implementation and the families, women, and kids affected by the policy.
I will then present the personal stories and experiences of the individuals effected by the policy and that have been used worldwide by international specialists such as the and the western journalism, World Health Organization and United Nations, researchers like the Atlantic and the New York Times, and peer examined theoretical sources. Furthermore, it is essential to notice that I could not find consistent research articles from Chinese sources itself and on several occasions, there was no confidential data to rely on, that is because to a lack of report preserving or falsified certification, in these instances, I focus on individual testimony and exclusive illustrations to examine the situations and the rule has put citizens in. I apprehend that this does now not point out how massive these capabilities are inside China. Nevertheless, supposing that these topics are telling the reality it acts as precise substantial to have a look at the moral apprehensions of the policy.
The essay will illustrate the penalties of China’s One Child rule and the moral apprehensions that demand to be viewed when imposing a national policy and an unintended scenario that has been caused due to some important factors that will be brough in discussion and considerations. There are reasons why the policy was adopted, therefore, I will use more than one factor to show how it has led to an unintended scenario. According to journalist Mei Fong in her book One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment. A woman during the 2016 Beijing Olympics stands in the middle of the Olympic village with a sign, written on it says “I just want to go to school”. She is quickly forcibly removed by police and the bustle of the Olympics continues. She returns every day with her sign just to be removed within minutes. According to Fong and the small amount of coverage of this protestor, there are people in China who are undocumented in their own country of birth. These lost children are a result of high fines for unapproved second children that can range to be four times the annual income of a family, resulting in them growing up legally not be recognized by China (Fong 2016). Assuming she is correct, the inability of this portion of the population to gain legal recognition creates numerous effects including no access to education and healthcare as well as the inability to get a job. These consequences are entangled with major ethical concerns.This is all a result of one of the main regulatory tools of the One Child Policy being large fines as punishment for those who have more than one child. However, these fines are so large that they can be completely debilitating and result in families unable to pay. Without being to pay the fine the child can never be registered and is left legally not existing. With a financial barrier being a major deterrent for breaking the One Child policy, it lends to the idea of how a policy like this unequally affects those of low socioeconomic backgrounds and creates a greater burden for those disenfranchised.
The star system is a visual and public reward system that pressures both local government and households to embody ideals and reach the numerical goals of the state. For individual families, the stars represent and reward them for what makes a good Chinese citizen, including a star for having only one child (Fong 2016). This use of a reward system creates a culture of pride and motivation. China is a society that values the collective and visually being able to show that you are playing your role for the collective by not having more than one child. This can also act as a negative reinforcement for those who cannot achieve that star. When a family has more than one child they do not earn that star and it is a public marker that they did not play their part in the collective and create shame for not conforming to the policy even if they got approval for a second child (Wang 2019). Visual reinforcement of the One Child policy was a successful tool in making the actions of a community member the responsibility of the entire community.
The first factor was a public health intervention and Mao’s major health campaigns that played on Chinese nationalism overall, having a critical role in reducing mortality rates in China. Public health campaigns and efforts became popular all over the world making the quality of life and health better; however, Maoist China was able to use the nationalist spirit to implement them under the title “Patriotic Health Campaigns” (Babiarz et al. 2015). The 1950s had some of the first public health campaigns focused on sanitation, this included proper disposing of excrement, eradicating pests linked to major health issues: rats, fleas, mosquitos, and bed bugs, and refusal of amputation of the body that leads to greater infection (Jamison 1984; Banister 1987; Hipgrave 2011). As time went on Mao took these sanitation standards and expanded them throughout the country including rural areas. Within Maoist China came new innovations in life-saving vaccines. These vaccines include polio, measles, diphtheria, whooping cough, scarlet fever, cholera, and smallpox, which in the case of smallpox was distributed rapidly and widespread to that it was completely eradicated by 1960 with the last cases being in Tibet and Yunnan (Jamison 1984; Banister 1987). Finally, in order to address high infant and maternal mortality rates, most of China’s midwives were retrained in the 1950s under the ‘modern midwifery’ campaign, which had a high emphasis on the importance of sanitation during childbirth (Banister 1987).
The Dunan family is a group in China that was arrested and convicted for human trafficking abandoned babies to orphanages. In 2005, Dunan Yuangeng was wrapped in the 2005 scandal where it was revealed that six orphanages in Hunan, one of the largest suppliers to western adoption centers, were found to have been buying babies (Fong 2016). Dunan Yuangeng and his family were placed in jailed labor for the trafficking of 85 infants, but the reality is they were involved in many more adoptions. They would take these babies in milk powder boxes and travel 600 miles from Guanfonf to Hunan to deliver them to the orphanages (Fong 2016). According to Dunan Yuangeng, he estimates that he alone had sold at least 1,000 babies to orphanages, whether it be from families giving them the infant or being informed that an infant was abandoned in a public place (Tong 2010). He was only charged for 85 infants because it was common practice for the orphanages to falsify documents, as a result making it nearly impossible to track where these babies are from, resulting in thousands of people having no way to know where they came from or under what circumstances they were put up for adoption. China has claimed that no babies that were adopted by Americans were involved in this scandal. The reality is there is already evidence that people adopted to America from several different provinces and adoption centers have been connected to Dunan and the various ways adoption centers have falsified their records.
Though the selling and lying about babies is clearly unethical, the reality is the reason it grew to the international criminal empire is all due to the demand for healthy babies. Americans and other high-income counties were creating a high demand to adopt babies giving a “donation” of around $3,000 and by 2009 rising to $5,000, resulting in orphanages receiving annual donations of about $300,000 to $500,000 making this a lucrative source of income for the orphanage and their employees (Stuy 2014). As a result, the orphanages were adopting out infants quickly and they were trying to restock their numbers and that is where these human traffickers got involved. The Duncan Matriarch said the orphanage, in the beginning, would pay them $120 a baby and as they reached the early 2000’s they would be paid $250 and by 2005 they got $500 a baby (Fong 2016). When there are not a lot of ways to make money and the alternative is abandonment or infanticide many families and individuals like Dunans would enter the illegal selling of babies to these orphanages.
Sterilization ensured life-long birth control when compared to the pill and the IUD. Sterilization itself is not a bad thing if the woman chooses it without coercion or force. However in China that was not the reality. One of the methods villages and their family planning officers used to slow the growth of their population and not exceed their government allotted birth rate was to require all women to be sterilized after the birth of their first and only child. This is because the village leaders and the larger Chinese government did not trust people with the choice and control of nonpermanent methods of birth control (Fong 2016). Even places like the city of Yicheng, which had a more flexible two-child policy, required women to get sterilized as their main form of birth control and they had to have their second child no earlier than 5 years after the first or risk high fines or coerced abortions (Fong 2016).
The other way the One Child policy has violated a woman’s reproductive rights by removing their ability to choose what they can do with their body is the practice of forced abortion. When a woman gets pregnant and they are not approved to have that child, local government, and family planning authorities used similar methods of coercion as they did for the sterilization of women. Local government leaders like Haung Denggao admit to using persuasive tactics like large fines and the confiscation of valuables to persuade women to get abortions. Not only would these children be aborted, but sometimes the midwife or doctor would induce labor to deliver the baby and kill it (Wang 2019). In this case, women were being coerced into abortion meaning they lost their right to choose what they can do with their bodies. China has some of the most open accessibility for women to get abortions as a means of reducing the population as a part of the open accessibility for family planning resources that came with the One Child policy (Dixon-Muelller 1993). With a lack of regulation by the national government on how to enforce the policy, it has resulted in the coercion of women to abort the children unwanted by the government (Li 2012).
Effects of the One Child Policy on the Chinese and the World Economy:
China’s quick and impending increase in median age over upcoming decadesdefinitely will not be helping its economic growth, which is ironic because economicgrowth is one of the reasons why the policy was created and adopted by thegovernment in the first place. At some point in the near future, the amount of peopleretiring and leaving the workforce may exceed the amount of people graduating from school and entering it. According to Vikram Masharamani’s article“ Is China’s One Child Policy to Blame for its Economic Slowdown,”one of the main factors that drives acountry’s economic growth is its labor force, which means when more people enter theworkforce, it brings more money into the economy and increased productivity. By 2035,20 percent of the population will be 65 or over, so this “labor-driven growth” will not be occurring in China. From the 1980s until 2010, with China’s pre one-child policy, babyboomer generation working to their fullest capacities, China was able to achieve double-digit increases in its GDP growth rates and moved past Japan to officially become the world’s second largest economy (Baozhen). These same workers who helped change China from a struggling communist nation into an economic powerhouse are quicklyapproaching their 60s and 70s, and can only work for so much longer. The problem is,they do not have many children of their own to replace them, and so China may have to say goodbye to its rapidly increasing GDP.
In conclusion, the One Child policy technically was a success, it reduced the population growth of China. However, in the process, it sacrificed the health of their demographics and the human rights of their people. China and its population policy reveal that when
controlling a population and people’s reproduction rate, even with the best intentions has unintended consequences. In the case of China, the mission was to simply limit people to one child in order to avoid resource depletion and economic ruin. It was an ideal case study because it was a policy that was created by its own government and was the most strict form of a population policy that was widely applied to a large population. China and its collective society and the authoritative government still had to face cultural barriers and limitations to its ability to get people to follow the policy resulting in ethical violations against the people of China and the creation of new demographic issues.