News / Asia

Chinese Who Lost Only Child Petition Government for Help

The one-child policy has resulted in a demographic time bomb for the world's most populous nation where the aging population is causing major economic and social problems, October 25, 2011The one-child policy has resulted in a demographic time bomb for the world's most populous nation where the aging population is causing major economic and social problems, October 25, 2011
x
The one-child policy has resulted in a demographic time bomb for the world's most populous nation where the aging population is causing major economic and social problems, October 25, 2011
The one-child policy has resulted in a demographic time bomb for the world's most populous nation where the aging population is causing major economic and social problems, October 25, 2011
VOA News
China’s one-child policy, aimed at curbing the country’s growing population, has helped facilitate an economic boom over the last three decades. But in a country with few social safety nets, the policy has made elderly parents heavily reliant on their only children. Parents whose children have died face greater uncertainty and are now asking the government to help support them in their old age.

China's birth control policy

The term “shiduzhe” or “those who have lost their only child,” has become a buzzword on China's Internet and in media coverage, challenging the party’s positive evaluations of its birth control policy.
 
Last month more than 100 petitioners gathered at the National Population Family Planning Commission in Beijing. All of them had lost their only child, and were demanding compensation from the government. The popular Chinese magazine Southern Weekly, whose most recent edition featured the issue of shiduzhe and the plight of the petitioners, reported that they never got an official response.
 
Beijing University professor Mu Guangzong says that he understands the predicament these families are in. “The government has a responsibility towards this group.” Mu says, “Perhaps the direct reason why these children have died is because of an accident, or an illness, or they committed suicide. But at the basis there is always the policy. What is happening with these families is a risk that the policy has created from the inside,” he says.

Implemented nationwide in 1979, the one child policy attempted to correct the rapid population growth encouraged by Mao in the 1950s and 1960s, and restricted Chinese couples to having only one child.

Exceptions were permitted for minorities, rural residents, and other groups and it is estimated that nearly 36 percent of the Chinese population, roughly 480 million people, is legally bound to have only one child.

Population aging

Thirty-three years into the policy, the number of families who lost their children and are too old to have another baby is growing. Though the actual population is difficult to survey, according to the latest official statistics, in 2006 there were more than 37 thousand women who were both over 49 years old and had lost their only child, this figure is expected to grow four-fold by 2038.

In losing their offspring, many of these parents have also lost their only hope for financial security.

“When we were young we responded to the nation's call to only have one child,” a petition circulated online earlier this year said. “But once drowned in disaster, we suddenly became aware that the blow of losing one's only child not only was cruel, but also fatal for us.” The document, signed by over four thousand people, pleaded to the government for help, and offered ideas on how to calculate the size of subsidies these families need.

Childless parents seek government assistance

China’s nationwide pension system was introduced in 1997, but today still barely covers the needs of its urban population, effectively leaving out most of the rural elderly.

These childless parents now rely on a monthly subsidy of roughly $15 that the government established for them in 2007.

Professor Mu acknowledges the government’s efforts, but says these subsidies are not enough. “It is mostly just a sign to show that they [the government] care about this group. But as far as the real outcome the families are the ones that know it.”

In recent years, the issue has gained prominence as families have started sharing their stories online, setting up virtual support groups where they can get in touch with others facing similar difficulties.

Yet, because their experience is closely link to the one child policy, the topic remains rather sensitive in China, and parents are reluctant to reveal their real names when quoted in newspaper articles and other media.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More