China’s parents have begun to rebel
Brendan O’Neill says that the state’s cruel and antiquated one-child policy is being propped up by British environmentalists with an agenda — but the Chinese are striking back Professor Yang Zhizhu is a brave man. In flagrant defiance of China’s womb-policing one-child policy, he and his wife have chosen to become outlaws by having two children and flat out refusing to pay the second-child fine (around £18,000). ‘Why should I pay money for having my own kid?’ asked Professor Yang in an interview last month. ‘It’s our right as citizens.’ For the crime of starting a two-child family, Professor Yang was fired from his job at the Beijing Youth Politics College and now faces an uncertain future.
Yet at the same time as this Beijing-based academic is taking huge risks to become, in his words, ‘a nail in the coffin of China’s one-child policy’, some British academics — of the miserabilist, misanthropic variety — are providing the Chinese state with new arguments for keeping the one-child policy. A Chinese teacher is trying to topple it, while British researchers are helping to prop it up.
It all started when Yang’s wife, Chen Hong, gave birth to their second child on 21 December last year. They were immediately slapped with the hefty state fine. After Professor Yang refused to pay — not, he says, because he couldn’t afford it, but because the one-child policy is ‘ridiculous’ — he was turfed out of his cushy job last month and will now live on ‘subsistence allowances’. As an illegal second child, his daughter, Ruonan, will not get the Beijing hukou, the permanent residency document that recognises her as a citizen. This means she won’t have access to public services such as education, medical facilities and, later in life, Beijing-based jobs. ‘I only pray that she doesn’t come down with some drastic illness,’ says Professor Yang.
Yang has become a hero across China — testament to the extent to which Chinese people hate the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC), the vast state body which employs an eye-popping 509,000 public servants to police and punish people’s reproductive habits. In a survey of 75,300 people carried out by a popular Chinese website, 91 per cent of respondents said they supported Yang. His university colleagues have written a letter demanding his reinstatement, arguing ‘it is time to adjust the existing family planning policy’. Even China Daily, the English-language state newspaper, admits Yang has won ‘tens of thousands of hearts across the country’.
Before Yang, tycoons and celebs had been infuriating the regime by simply stumping up the cash for the second-child fine in order that they could expand their families. One wealthy couple waltzed into their local birth control office, slammed some money on the table and said: ‘Here is 200,000 yuan £18,000]. Please do not come to disturb us.’ Poorer families, who can’t afford the fines, are having second children as secretively as possible. Meanwhile, experts argue that the one-child policy is giving rise to a demographic nightmare: China has a growing population of old people but not enough youngsters to provide for them. So some cities, including Shanghai, are starting to relax the one-child policy.
Interesting to see how totalian-loving "liberals" in the West respond.