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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid