China is so awash in family planning, be it contraception or abortion, that if Rick Santorum lived there, his head would explode. We all know about China’s one child policy, implemented in 1979 at the beginning of a period of reforms that placed China on the trajectory towards political stability and economic growth upon which it’s chugging today. The basic problem in China was that there were simply too many people (and not enough money). It’s still the most populous country in the world, but the economic growth that’s taken place there over the past three decades means that in coming years, the country is going to need to relax the policy in order to sustain growth rates. The fundamental issue they face is that if the one child policy persists, the population will gradually begin to age to the point where there aren’t enough active workers to support pensioners.
It’s a question of balance, and while many of us in the west are used to approaching it from an impersonal point of view, I’d like to take this chance to discuss what my boyfriend (who is from China) thinks about it. He was born in 1979, the year that the policy was implemented. His parents already had a daughter, and they were operating in a gray area of having a second child. Were it not for the fact that his father was (is) a member of the Communist party (!) and the fact that his parents were willing to pay a large fine (his mother was also demoted from her government job), he still thinks that it saved China. His approach always amazes me. He was nearly aborted, and yet he still sees the value in the policy. I’ve found that the Chinese are far less ideological about politics. They go with what works, not with what feels best.
His take is that the policy saved China and made the economic transformation of the country possible. Was it a painful and horribly unjust policy? Yes. But it worked. China is doing as well as it is today precisely because of the hard choices made thirty years ago, and they now find themselves in a position where they can stop worrying about that issue, overpopulation, that threatened their existence. I know that this is an extreme example, but, by comparison, the issue that’s now coming to the fore is gas prices in America, something that, while unpleasant to pay, is a fact of life. It’s an asinine conversation, but, it’s the one that we’re bound to have in a democratic society.