Like most Asian cultures, the Chinese are traditionally family orientated.
From that, you may get an idea of how devastating the ruling Communist Party’s controversial one-child policy has been on Chinese society over the past 35 years.
This short video above by the BBC offers an insight into the profound effects the policy has had on the lives of everyday Chinese.
More broadly, the country now has a large aging population who have to be supported by a dwindling number of working adults.
The same dwindling workforce will have to drive a faltering economy.
And that worries the government, which depends on economic growth for their legitimacy.
The BBC video featured at the top was produced just before an official announcement was made on Thursday on how China is now moving to a two-child policy for all couples.
However, state population controls and enforcement measures of a two-child limit are expected to remain as they were for a one-child policy.
“Couples that have two children could still be subjected to coercive and intrusive forms of contraception, and even forced abortions — which amount to torture,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International via a statement.
Officially, the reasons for China’s population control were to lessen the drain on resources in what was an impoverished country.
But many researchers say China’s birthrate would have naturally fallen anyway as the country’s economy advanced and education levels improved, which would have led to more women joining the workforce, reports USA TODAY.
“China has already begun to feel an unfolding crisis in terms of its population change,” Wang Feng, a professor at Fudan University and a leading demographic expert on China, told CNN earlier this year.
“History will look back to see the one-child policy as one of the most glaring policy mistakes that China has made in its modern history.”
Wang said the policy was unproductive and needless because China’s fertility rates were already slowing by the 1980s.
The one-child measures became national policy not long after the death of Mao Zedong. The policy was aggressively and inhumanely enforced by a dedicated national commission that would fine families for having more than one child. They also carried out forced sterilizations and abortions.
Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, told a Congressional Executive Commission on China in April of this year that the Chinese Communist Party boasts that it has “prevented” 400 million births through its population control measures.
“This is the hallmark of communist regimes — the peacetime killing of their own citizens,” Littlejohn said. “Now, China faces demographic disaster.”
And it is not just about the concerns of an aging population. Due to the targeted abortion of female fetuses and even infanticide, the policy has also created a huge gender imbalance in China. There are currently 32 million more boys under the age of 20 than girls, says Newsweek.
“The problem is likely to get worse: It has been estimated that there will be a surplus of 40 million to 50 million bachelors in China throughout the mid- to late 21th century,” stated The Washington Post. “That figure leads experts to worry about the future stability of the country — polyandry has even been mooted as a potential solution to the problem.”
See an episode of China Uncensored about China’s one-child policy: