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Embarrassing Practice of Family Planning Policy

Popularity 3Viewed 6986 times 2013-3-7 22:26 |System category:News| one-child policy, state employees, embarrassing


When my wife and I visited my hometown located in a remote village during the Spring Festival vacation, my parents and relatives talked again and again of the embarrassing topic of us bearing one more child, just as they had done before whenever I was with them.


The topic is embarrassing for it’s impossible for us to have one more child. Both my wife and I are working in state-run institutions(事业单位) where one-child policy is sternly executed. If anyone dares to break the law he is sure to be fired, plus other economic loss, which proves to be unbearable penalty for a family.


People in my hometownhowever, aren’t too afraid of the ‘milestone’ state policy. In their eyes, money can buy the law. In fact, a majority of households in the villages of my hometown, especially those whose first child is a girl, have had at least two children, some even three, after having paid a fine ranging from RMB 1,800 or so in 1980s to current RMB 20,000 or so. In the traditional clan culture prevailing in the villages and nearly all the spacious countryside, a son is reckoned as an heir of the family while a daughter is commonly seen as nothing but one relative after she gets married.


That’s the main reason why my parents, over 60 years old, have been insisting that we should bear one more child, a son if optional. The fact that their son, I, has only a daughter makes them feel disgraceful among folks. I always excused myself from their petition with the rigid implement of family planning policy in my working unit.


But this excuse does not work all the time. According to what I learnt from my friends, even in many county-level cities, many people who have a position in the state-run institutions also have got more than one child somehow. No wonder nearly all my friends and acquaintances were trying to persuade me into bearing another child by stealth.


No possibility. I was obliged to tell them the truth: in cities above the county level, one-child policy is dubbed as a “high-voltage wire”, allowing nobody to challenge it. No tricks cannot be seen through and those defying it are doomed to be severely punished. A case in point goes like this: Law professor Yang Zhizhu(杨支柱) was notified by officials from the China Youth University for Political Sciences on March 26, 2010 that he was being fired and fined because he had violated Beijing's family planning regulations.(For more information, see:  To say the least, the influential one-child policy has deeply rooted among the state employees like my wife and me. We fully understand the policy’s great significance and abide by it voluntarily, or, under constraint.


We are subject to the constraints not only from the policy itself but also from the cost of fostering a child. The cost falls into two categories: money and energy. As average state employees, annual per capital income ranges from 30,000 yuan to 50,000 yuan in Zhengzhou, capital of the central Henan Province, of which a large portion is spent on the only child, mainly including the medical expense and various training fees. Take my 8+ years old daughter as an example: 150 yuan an hour for piano class, 100 yuan for horus class, and another 80 yuan for speechcraft class, all once a week, totally 1,320 yuan a month, nearly one fourth of my family’s monthly earnings. We spend much less than a lot of others since my daughter doesn’t need to enroll in the English and math training class which most of her peers take part in. Each time she goes for the training class, either her mother or I have to accompany her throughout the class, especially the piano class. Otherwise, we cannot offer any help in the process of my daughter’s daily after-class exercise. Up to now, we’ve done so for more than 3 years, and surely this will continue in the following several years, coming to an end until she becomes a senior high school student. You can imagine how much time and energy we have poured into the child’s cultivation. Given this, do you think we can afford one more child even if permitted by the state policy?


Of course, tycoons and officials with grey or dark income are apparently beyond our discussion. They treated all these constraints as a piece of cake. But how about my folks? Most of them toil in crop land or in factories as migrant workers. Their earnings are much less than those of state employees, they can spare little time to accompany child, and more importantly, most of them are desperately short of literacy on how to scientifically cultivate a child. How do they cope with the burden of bearing two or three children?


In my village, most of the kids’ parents are migrant workers. They send their children to private schools. 1,200 yuan a semester for a child covers board and lodging, all the tuition fees and transport charges. Every two weeks the kids are sent back by school buses to their home for a two-day weekend. At home, most of the kids can only stay with their grandparents because their parents are likely to be earning their lives hundreds of or thousands of miles away from their home. The only chance for them to see their parents is the Lunar New Year, when the family reunion happens. In a sense Spring Move (春运) is initiated by children, right?


How cheap and how light-hearted the education for a child becomes in the remote countryside! But how about the quality of that education? Who knows? Who cares?


On the one hand, the qualified parents, who I think most of the state-run employees are, have no alternative but to have one child. On the other hand, the under-qualified parents, hindered by financial condition or literacy, or both, bear more children. Is this our family planning policy committed to achieve?


I can easily reject my parents’ wish but I cannot solve the puzzle in my mind even with effort.      


(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




Shake hands


Friends who just made a statement (2 Person)

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Comment Comment (3 comments)

Reply Report huaren2323 2013-3-8 11:36
Mr. Wang. If it were me I would convince my parents that their garnddaughter will be able to catch the best boys in town or country because with gender inequality the girls gets to pick from the excess boys and of course the better ones...Per my expereince the daughter usually come home every week to her parents not their in there you go you get 2 for the price of 1...double happiness... <sang shi>
Reply Report 易水寒2006 2013-3-8 22:16
Reply Report ALittleBoat 2013-3-9 09:55
huaren2323: Mr. Wang. If it were me I would convince my parents that their garnddaughter will be able to catch the best boys in town or country because with gende ...
good idea! i'll try when the topic is mentioned next time.

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