Understanding China Papers and Dialogues
The Living Earth Movement invites you to attend Understanding China Dialogues on Thursday, February 9th at 1:00 pm PST
We are making real progress toward developing a set of factual papers that counter American (and sometimes also Chinese) propaganda about China. Our hope is to persuade Americans to stop demonizing China and, instead, seek to cooperate for the sake of a living earth. The group of people who are working on this project has changed considerably, and I want everyone now in the group to feel ownership of every paper that is made public. That may not be possible, and we will discuss exceptions. But this is the goal.
Some time ago we decided that our papers must be very short, since our goal is a large readership, and Americans tend not to read anything of length. “Short” has come to be defined as no more than 500 words. Of course, we may change our minds, but currently that is our goal. Zhihe Wang wrote a somewhat longer paper that those who were active at that time approved.
What we are sending you is shortened. I do not think this shortened paper has been discussed. Discussing this paper is our first priority for tomorrow. Please read it critically. Is it accurate? Is it clear? Does it highlight what is most important on this topic? What could be omitted? What needs to be added?
If we need an extended discussion, this will be our only topic for tomorrow. If we find that it requires little change, we will go on to a second paper, the one on Hong Kong. We have discussed a paper on Hong Kong before with some suggestions but no consensus. This is revised. It is unlikely to be readily accepted. But we need a fresh discussion. Probably that discussion will carry over to another time, but it may at least point directions for research and revisions.
Understanding China Dialogues this week on Thursday, February 9th, at 1:00 pm PST, will discuss the paper on China’s One Child Policy and possibly also the paper on Hong Kong if time permits
China’s One Child Policy
The One Child Policy was instituted in 1980 by Deng Xiaoping to prevent what Deng believed would be an impediment to China’s economic development and modernization: population growth. This Policy had been debated at least since 1920, when fears of unchecked population growth led a considerable number of Chinese intellectuals to advocate Western-style birth control and family planning measures.
Deng Xiaoping became the paramount leader of the People’s Republic of China in 1978 after the death of Mao Zedong in 1975. Mao promoted population growth in China largely out of the belief that having a large population was critical for national strength and defense. Deng took the opposite approach and, being convinced by scientific-minded advisors from the West and China itself that China was experiencing runaway population growth, put the One Child Policy in place in 1980.
The policy was tweaked and adjusted over the years to allow for many exceptions, allowing ethnic minorities, rural-dwellers and others to have more children. It was ended in 2015. In retrospect, it has won both praise and criticism from many within China and throughout the world. Those who champion it credit it for having prevented an estimated 400 million extra births which, in their view, would have hampered China’s rapid economic development. They claim that it was necessary despite the suffering it caused during its 35-year lifespan.
However, the One Child Policy has many critics who claim that the Policy was too strict, and that the undesirable outcomes resulting from the Policy have created long-term problems for China. First, the Policy was responsible for the emergence of a sizeable disparity between males and females that has left some 30 million men in China without prospects of finding a spouse.
Second, the shrinking family size has resulted in the “4-2-1” family structure, 4 grandparents, 2 parents and 1 child. This has made caring for the elderly an increasingly difficult task. The policy has also caused China’s labor force to shrink, which will contribute to slowing China’s economic growth. Economic problems aside, the shrinking family size due to the Policy has given rise to social and psychological issues. A phenomenon dubbed “little emperor syndrome” has arisen due to children being treated as the center of the family. The children often suffer from loneliness.
Third, the One Child Policy’s implementation involved many human rights abuses, some very serious. And last, the iconoclastic treatment of Chinese traditions of filial piety and positive sentiments towards childbirth by the proponents and architects of the policy has created a contentious issue between the government and the many Chinese who still value and adhere to these traditions, and as a result wish to have larger families.
In 2015, the government removed all remaining one-child limits, and in July 2021, all limits were removed.
“Hong Kong” is a city on Hong Kong Island and often used to name the area around it composed of many other islands and a peninsula. In 1898, it was leased from China by the British for 99 years, and it became a “crown colony.” The city prospered as an international center of business and trade. In 1997, it was returned to China.
Because many Chinese had settled there to escape conditions on the mainland and enjoyed British culture and international relationships, some dreaded the change. To reassure the citizens, China promised them considerable autonomy for fifty years, and Hong Kong has functioned almost as an independent country, more European than Chinese in its social and political order. Like the United States there are extremes of wealth and poverty, while the middle class enjoys its freedom and civil rights. The dread of being integrated into mainland China in 2047, now Communist, is intense among a considerable part of the population.
When the United States began to view China as a threat to its global dominance, it worked in many ways to weaken the central government. One of them was to heighten fear in Hong Kong, especially among students, of being reassimilated. On the whole, Beijing respected Hong Kong’s independence, and did not provide occasions for protest, but on one occasion it did.
The independence of Hong Kong was emphasized by the rule that its court system was entirely independent. There should be no appeal beyond the Hong Kong courts. However, in 2019, the Hong Kong courts feared that in the case of the trial of a very wealthy and powerful citizen, a Hong Kong jury would fear to do its duty and asked for Beijing’s help. Beijing agreed. A group of students, closely connected to the American embassy, led a protest. Beijing withdrew its agreement, but the real concern of the students took over, and more and more of them joined in protesting the prospects of reintegration into China.
The government of China was not directly involved in responding to the protests, but the students regarded the police and the Hong Kong government as doing nothing to prevent their fears from being realized. Indeed, the Hong Kong authorities did largely cooperate with the Chinese government. Hence, the students felt that they were legitimate objects of their wrath.
Sadly, their protests became violent riots, and violence was used against them. Also, in 2020, in response to the riots, Beijing produced a document on National Security which restricts the civil rights of Hong Kong and opens the door to Beijing intervention in the future. Hong Kong’s business was damaged, its government weakened, and its freedom reduced.
SAVE THE DATE! First Living Earth Anniversary Celebration
The next Living Earth Movement monthly meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 23rd at 1:00pm PST. Details will be provided when available.
The Living Earth Movement inspires global cooperation for the sake of all life on our planet, beginning with the United States and China. We also seek to promote a new human civilization that lives in harmony with the rest of the ecosphere. We are continuing to develop and share programs to help encourage cooperation between the U.S. and China and Ecological Civilization. Please contact us if you have any interest in helping create and or participate in our events. Thank you for your participation and support!
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