China’s growing greying population has created social and economic pressure that forced Chinese government to replace its infamous one-child policy with two-children one. After 35 years in action, the policy which has wreaked havoc on billions of people's basic freedom and averted 4 million births has come to an end.
Ending the one-child policy has sparked heated reactions across social media platforms. For those who now pass childbearing age after having followed the policy for decades, the policy change comes just too late. Many of my university friends flocked to social media to express their frustrations, as posts ranging from sarcasm to dark humor flooded my inbox on WeChat.
“When I discussed with my wife last night about having a second one, she refuses to get pregnant again… She almost kicked me off the bed. Rats!” one posted.
“My wife allows me to have one more child with anyone! This relaxed policy by both the government and the family has put me ‘under a lot of pressure’! “
Some posts have elicited strong emotional response and a lot of laughter:
“If she keeps rejecting my suggestions, I will try to marry a second wife!”
But I believe that behind these seemingly indifferent jokes are the mixed feelings of bitterness, resentment and regrets.
Since I reconnected with college friends a few months ago, our discussions largely focused on family and children. Established both in wealth and career, many of them in China told me that the only regret in their life is not having a second child. Some are even quite jealous that few of us who -- live overseas -- have more than one child.
“Wow! You have two children?! I was desperate to have one more!” One friend said.
“Damn! My second baby was killed by this one-child policy. It is sooo brutal!” said the other.
While the experiences of many people – including my college friends -- are frustrating, they pale in comparison with many disturbing stories that have shocked the global community.
One of my former colleagues in China – in her late 20s had an unexpected pregnancy after having her first child. As a result, this young female employee had a forced abortion, endured public embarrassment (group criticism) and made repeated apologies in the group meetings as the annual bonus for the entire group was forfeited resulting from her “violation” of the policy.
I still remember her tearing eyes, flushed face and stuttered apologies.
Over the past decades, the vigorous policy enforcement has led to countless fetuses forcibly extracted, millions of girls discarded in favour of boys, and thousands of “illegal” children deprived of the basic human rights as a citizen.
The decades-long policy has created social and economic problems that have escalated into a full blown crisis. A growing aging population have left the country struggling with increased medial costs, reduced market labour force, and challenges to reverse the population decline.
This disastrous policy has also created irrevocable damages. As those desperately wanting a second child are mourning their missed opportunities, urban young generations choose to forgo a second child, citing lack of financial resources and desired living conditions -- and more importantly, a stable family required to raise one more child. Giving the soaring divorce rate among young families, a second child is undoubtedly an additional cause of custody battle if parents face each other in family court.
“I would be bogged down to death by the second child!” a WeChat post was quoted in the Times, referring to the soaring costs of raising one more child.
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