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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs