China recently took a major decision, allowing all couples to have two children – a development, which has a close connection with the ageing population in the country. Of the total 1.355 billion population in China, more than 20 per cent is over 55 in age. It is said that by 2050, the number of Chinese senior citizens will equal Europe’s entire population and surpass Americans of all age groups. For this, China’s 36-year-old brutal one-child policy is held responsible. It is said that Chinese economy, which has slowed down currently, will bear the brunt of aging population in coming years. As per a rough estimate, China, which will pay hefty amount of its GDP on pension and health insurance of its retiring manpower in the next 7 to 10 years, may also lose much of its sheen as the world’s manufacturing hub because of its aging population. If a data from the U.S.-based Brookings Institute is to be believed, China already has 180 million people aged over 60, and it would reach 240 million by 2020 and 360 million by 2030. It is estimated that the population share of aged over 60 would reach 20 per cent by 2020 and 27 per cent by 2030. Seeing its far-reaching negative impact on the country’s economy and society as well, Beijing decided to do away with the norm, which was introduced in 1979 as a tool for population control and economic growth.
Due to the policy, it is said that as many as 400 million deaths of mostly female children occurred in the intervening years since it was launched. Couples who violated it underwent forced abortion and were subjected to punishment-from fines to the loss of employment. Contraception became mandatory for couples. Its side effects were also in galore. Like a typical Asian society where male is preferred to a girl child for a complex set of reasons, including family name, inheritance law and the responsibility of caring for old-age parents, many Chinese secretly undertook sex determination tests and aborted fetuses after finding them that of females or had them killed after birth. In some cases, parents would abandon their female babies in a busy market or street who, after being found by the police or individuals, were brought to orphanages or other social welfare institutes. In 1992, China formally opened its doors to international adoption.
Since then, thousands of Chinese girl children have been adopted in the U.S. and several Western countries. But grotesqueness of one-child policy comes out open when Chinese parents do not find girls for the marriage of their sons. According to a data from the Chinese government, China had 33.8 million more males than females at the end of 2014. This has ushered in the most abnormal demographic changes in China. Scarcity of females has led to almost a complete disappearance of sisters, aunts and cousins from the Chinese society. For this, China’s Communist government is blamed as it backed the policy on the grounds that the population was too large and personal sacrifice was necessary for the common good. Experts say that to some extent, such stand has proved right for the country. For around three decades, it registered an average 10 per cent growth in economy; it replaced Japan to become the second economic power of the world after the U.S.; its economy is around $18 trillion, slightly higher than the International Monetary Fund; it has the world’s largest foreign reserves, which is around $3.557 trillion. But when the country is staring at economic slowdown and sees no reprieve from it in the next few years, its decision to rescind one-child policy is seen as a move taken in calculated manner. Yet, it is months from now when China will implement it. Chinese couples will, in fact, begin enjoying the relaxation from the draconian one-child policy from March next year.
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