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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid