Posts tagged ‘Mao Zedong’

04/11/2016

Xi Jinping gets a new title | The Economist

COMMUNIST leaders relish weird and wonderful titles. Kim Jong Il, the late father of North Korea’s current “Great Leader”, was, on special occasions, “Dear Leader who is a perfect incarnation of the appearance that a leader should have” (it doesn’t sound much better in Korean). China’s rulers like a more prosaic, mysterious epithet: hexin, meaning “the core”.

Xi Jinping—China’s president, commander-in-chief, Communist Party boss and so forth—is now also officially “the core”, having been called that in a report issued by the party’s Central Committee after a recent annual meeting.

The term was made up in 1989 by Deng Xiaoping, apparently to give his anointed successor, Jiang Zemin, greater credibility after the bloody suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests. Just as Mao had been the core of the first generation of party leaders and Deng himself of the second, so Mr Jiang was of the third. (Hu Jintao, Mr Xi’s predecessor, was supposedly offered the title of fourth-generation core but modestly turned it down.)

Being core confers no extra powers. Mr Xi has little need of those; he is chairman of everything anyway. Status, though, is what really matters in China (Deng ruled the country for a while with no other title than honorary chairman of the China Bridge Association). And Mr Xi seems to be finding that all his formal power does not convey enough. Early this year, in what looked like a testing of the waters, a succession of provincial party leaders kowtowed verbally to Xi-the-core. But the term soon disappeared from public discourse. Its revival makes it look as if Mr Xi has won a struggle to claim it.

That may augur well for him in his forthcoming battles over the appointment of a new generation of lesser officials (the peel?) at a party congress next year. Mr Xi wants to replace some of the 350-odd members of the central committee with his own people, while keeping as many of his allies as he can. In a sign that he might be able to do that, officials have started dismissing as “folklore” an unwritten rule that members of the Politburo have to retire at 68. The rule is commonly known as “seven up, eight down” (qi shang, ba xia), meaning 67 is fine, 68 is over the hill. Getting rid of it would seem to open the way to the non-retirement of several of Mr Xi’s close allies, notably 68-year-old Wang Qishan, who is in charge of fighting graft. It might even pave the way for Mr Xi’s own refusal to collect his pension when his second (and supposedly final) term as party chief is up in 2022, and he will be 69.

There is another parallel between political language now and in 1989. The recent meeting eschewed the party’s usual practice of tying current events to the triumphs of earlier Communist history and instead set the scene by referring mostly to the congress in 2012, when Mr Xi became leader. Another time when the party ignored history in this way was after the Tiananmen killings, when it wanted to draw a veil over what had just occurred and signal a fresh, dictatorial start. Mr Xi seems to be saying, implicitly, that a new era has begun with him, core among equals.

Source: Xi Jinping gets a new title | The Economist

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18/06/2016

Study Finds China’s Ecosystems Have Become Healthier – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s skies may be toxic, and its rivers fetid and prone to sudden infestations of pig carcasses. But according to a new study, the country’s environmental battle has also been making quiet, measurable progress.

The paper, a collaboration between U.S. and Chinese researchers published in this week’s issue of Science, found that China’s ecosystems have become healthier and more resilient against such disasters as sandstorms and flooding. The authors partly credit what they describe as the world’s largest government-backed effort to restore natural habitats such as forests and grasslands, totaling some $150 billion in spending since 2000.

“In a more and more turbulent world, with climate change unfolding, it’s really crucial to measure these kinds of things,” says Gretchen Daily, a Stanford biology professor and a senior author on the paper.

The study didn’t examine air, water or soil quality, all deeply entrenched problems for the country.

Beijing’s investments in promoting better ecosystem protection were triggered after a spate of disasters in the 1990s. In particular, authors note, two decades after China started to liberalize its economy, rampant deforestation and soil erosion triggered devastating floods along the Yangtze River in 1998, killing thousands and causing some $36 billion in property damage.

The government subsequently embarked on an effort to try to forestall such environmental catastrophes. According to the study, in the decade following, carbon sequestration went up 23%, soil retention went up 13% and flood mitigation by 13%, with sandstorm prevention up by 6%.

The paper also involved authors from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Minnesota, among other institutions. Data was collected by remote sensing and a team of some 3,000 scientists across China, said Ms. Daily, who praised the “big-data” approach to tracking the quality of China’s ecosystems.

“The whole world is waking up to the need to invest in natural capital as the basis for green growth,” she said.

Reforestation was one particular bright spot, she said. Under the country’s founding father, Mao Zedong, China razed acres of forests to fuel steel-smelting furnaces. To reverse the trend–and combat creeping desertification in the country’s north — the country embarked on a project in 1978 to build a “Great Green Wall” of trees. Today, authorities say that 22% of the country is covered by forest, up 1.3 percentage points compared with 2008.

The authors note that the study has limits. While China has reported improving levels of air quality in the past year, urban residents still choke under regular “airpocalypses.” The majority of Chinese cities endure levels of smog that exceed both Chinese and World Health Organization health standards.

“You can plant trees till the end of time,” says Ms. Daily. “But they’ll never be enough to clean up the air.”

Source: Study Finds China’s Ecosystems Have Become Healthier – China Real Time Report – WSJ

27/05/2016

What Can Be Learned From China’s Monetary Past – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s decline as a great power in the 19th century wasn’t the fault of imperialism and opium. It was bad monetary policy, after all.

English: Qing emperor Jiaqing

English: Qing emperor Jiaqing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So says Werner Burger, a numismatic historian and Sinologist who has published a detailed history of money in the Qing Dynasty, entitled “Ch’ing Cash.” Mr. Burger has spent his professional life tracking down details of nearly every coin minted in China over three centuries. After three decades of making official requests, it wasn’t until 1996 that Beijing granted him access to the previous century’s imperial mint reports, the modern equivalent to central bank money supply statistics.

His conclusion: The Jiaqing Emperor, By letting the fakes infiltrate the economy, the Jiaqing emperor and his successors allowed the effective exchange rate for standard brass Chinese coins to swell from the official rate of 1000 per unit of silver to as high as 2500. Soldiers wages were effectively halved, giving them little incentive to fight the various battles against Western colonizers.

Mr. Burger refutes the notion that China’s trade with the United Kingdom, which for a time involved China sending silver to the U.K. in exchange for opium, was responsible for the debasement. He said the amount of silver sent abroad didn’t affect the exchange rate, noting a mid-century period of three decades when China actually experienced silver inflows.

Amid such currency instability, “all attempts at economic reforms and progress were bound to fail. China had no chance to catch up with the rest of the world and so lost a whole century to corruption and greedy officials,” says Mr. Burger.

For investors who want to learn from China’s past mistakes, the two volume history will cost a pretty penny: $800.

Source: What Can Be Learned From China’s Monetary Past – China Real Time Report – WSJ

23/05/2016

Doubling down | The Economist

“A COLOSSAL roller-coaster” is how a senior engineer described it. He was talking about the railway that China plans to build from the lowlands of the south-west, across some of the world’s most forbidding terrain, into Tibet. Of all the country’s railway-building feats in recent years, this will be the most remarkable: a 1,600-kilometre (1,000-mile) track that will pass through snow-capped mountains in a region racked by earthquakes, with nearly half of it running through tunnels or over bridges. It will also be dogged all the way by controversy.

Chinese officials have dreamed of such a railway line for a century. In 1912, shortly after he took over as China’s first president, Sun Yat-sen called for a trans-Tibetan line, not least to help prevent Tibet from falling under the sway of Britain (which had already invaded Tibet from India a decade earlier). Mao Zedong revived the idea in the 1950s. In the years since, many exploratory surveys have been carried out.

But it is only after building the world’s second-longest railway network—including, in the past few years, by far the biggest high-speed one—that China’s government has felt ready to take on the challenge. It had a warm-up with the construction of the first railway into Tibet, which opened in 2006. That line, connecting Lhasa with Golmud in Qinghai province to the north (and extended two years ago from Lhasa to Tibet’s second city, Shigatse), was proclaimed to be a huge accomplishment. It included the highest-altitude stretch in the world, parts of it across permafrost. It required ingenious heat-regulating technology to keep the track from buckling. Advertisement: Replay Ad China further honed its skills with the opening of a high-speed line across the Tibetan plateau in 2014—though in Qinghai province, rather than in Tibet proper. But neither track had anything like the natural barriers that the Sichuan-Tibet line will face. It will be just under half as long again as the existing line to Tibet, but will take three times longer to build. The second line’s estimated cost of 105 billion yuan ($16 billion) is several times more than the first one. Lhasa is about 3,200 metres (10,500 feet) higher than Chengdu, yet by the time the track goes up and down on the way there—crossing 14 mountains, two of them higher than Mont Blanc, western Europe’s highest mountain—the cumulative ascent will be 14,000 metres. The existing road from Chengdu to Lhasa that follows the proposed route into Tibet is a narrow highway notable for the wreckage of lorries that have careered off it. Some Chinese drivers regard the navigation of Highway 318 as the ultimate proof of their vehicles’, and their own, endurance. Work on easier stretches of the railway line, closest to Lhasa and Chengdu respectively, began in 2014. Now the government appears to be getting ready for the tougher parts. A national three-year “plan of action”, adopted in March for major transport-infrastructure projects, mentions the most difficult stretch: a 1,000km link between Kangding in Sichuan and the Tibetan prefecture of Linzhi (Nyingchi in Tibetan). The plan says this should be “pushed forward” by 2018. It will involve 16 bridges to carry the track over the Yarlung Tsangpo river, known downstream as the Brahmaputra. Dai Bin of Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu says the Chengdu-Lhasa line could be finished by around 2030.

Source: Doubling down | The Economist

26/04/2016

As China’s Economy Slows, Unrest Among Veterans Rises – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Over lunch in a Beijing backstreet, four Chinese veterans raised glasses to toast their reunion with fiery “baijiu” liquor.

PLA veterans stage a sit-down protest outside government offices in Hubei province on May 4, 2015.

They’d not drunk together since they were in the same army unit, fighting skirmishes with Vietnamese forces in the aftermath of a 1979 border war.

Now in their 50s, they’d come here shortly before an annual parliament meeting in March to fight a different kind of battle – to demand the welfare support that they say was promised to them, and millions of other veterans, on leaving the armed forces years ago.

The four veterans, all from the southern province of Hunan, are an example of the problem facing President Xi Jinping as he prepares to lay off 300,000 out of 2.3 million troops in the biggest restructuring of the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, since the 1950s.

China already has at least six million PLA veterans on state welfare, thousands of whom have staged well-organized protests in recent years over what they see as insufficient government support. Traditionally the government has offered subsidies to former soldiers and reserved slots for them at state-run companies, though many veterans say officials don’t follow through or that the perks aren’t enough to make ends meet.

Now, with an economic slowdown threatening to cause millions of state sector layoffs, prominent military figures have warned that veterans’ protests could escalate if the government can’t provide jobs or sufficient welfare support for the 300,000 being laid off.

One of the largest veterans’ protests was in June last year when several thousand, mostly veterans of China’s war with Vietnam, wearing uniforms and medals, protested outside offices of the Central Military Commission, which commands the armed forces and is headed by Mr. Xi.

A month earlier, there was another big veterans’ protest outside a Beijing courthouse. Smaller demonstrations occur frequently in other cities, according to experts who monitor them.

Many other veterans have tried to sue the government or lodge formal petitions, as the four in the restaurant did. Before lunch, they said, they’d submitted one at a nearby building that houses the petitions office of the Central Military Commission.

Officials there took the petition and scanned their identity cards, but gave them neither a receipt nor a reply, they said. “They just told us to go back where we came from,” said one of the four, a 54-year-old former worker in a coal-washing plant. “We got the feeling it was useless to go there.”

Source: As China’s Economy Slows, Unrest Among Veterans Rises – China Real Time Report – WSJ

01/04/2016

Beware the cult of Xi | The Economist

Xi Jinping is stronger than his predecessors. His power is damaging the country

“IF OUR party can’t even handle food-safety issues properly, and keeps on mishandling them, then people will ask whether we are fit to keep ruling China.” So Xi Jinping warned officials in 2013, a year after he became the country’s leader. It was a remarkable statement for the chief of a Communist Party that has always claimed to have the backing of “the people”. It suggested that Mr Xi understood how grievances about official incompetence and corruption risked boiling over. Mr Xi rounded up tens of thousands of erring officials, waging a war on corruption of an intensity not seen since the party came to power in 1949. Many thought he was right to do so.

Today, however, China is enduring its biggest public-health scandal in years. Tens of millions of dollars-worth of black-market, out-of-date and improperly stored vaccines have been sold to government health centres, which have in turn been making money by selling them to patients.

Mr Xi’s anti-graft war has often made little difference to ordinary people. Their life—and health—is still blighted by corruption. In recent days there have also been signs of discontent with Mr Xi among the elite: official media complaining openly about reporting restrictions, a prominent businessman attacking him on his microblog, a senior editor resigning in disgust.

Mr Xi has acquired more power than any Chinese leader since Mao Zedong. It was supposed to let him get things done. What is going wrong?

Credibility gap

In fairness, Mr Xi was bound to meet with hostility. Many officials are angry because he has ripped up the compact by which they have operated and which said that they could line their pockets, so long as corruption was not flagrant and they did their job well. But Mr Xi has also found that the pursuit of power is all-consuming: it does not leave room for much else. In three and a half years in charge, he has accumulated titles at an astonishing pace. He is not only party leader, head of state and commander-in-chief, but is also running reform, the security services and the economy. In effect, the party’s hallowed notion of “collective” leadership (see article) has been jettisoned.

Mr Xi is, one analyst says, “Chairman of Everything”. At the same time, he has flouted the party’s ban on personality cults, introduced in 1982 to prevent another episode of Maoist madness. Official media are filled with fawning over “Uncle Xi” and his wife, Peng Liyuan, a folk-singer whom flatterers call “Mama Peng”. A video, released in March, of a dance called “Uncle Xi in love with Mama Peng” has already been viewed over 300,000 times. There have been rumours recently that Mr Xi feels some of this has been going a bit far. Some of the most toadying videos, such as “The east is red again” (comparing Mr Xi to Mao), have been scrubbed from the internet. Many would take that as a sign that the personality cult is little more than harmless fun.

Mr Xi is no Mao, whose tyrannical nature and love of adulation were so great that he blithely led the country into the frenzy and violence of the Cultural Revolution. Although some older Chinese squirm at a style of politics so reminiscent of days long past, there is no suggestion that China is on the brink of another such horror.

More …

No liberal, Xi

More …

Source: Beware the cult of Xi | The Economist

14/01/2016

Xi’s new model army – The Economist

Xi Jinping reforms China’s armed forces—to his own advantage

CHINA’S biggest military shake-up in a generation began with a deliberate echo of Mao Zedong.

Late in 2014 President Xi Jinping went to Gutian, a small town in the south where, 85 years before, Mao had first laid down the doctrine that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the armed force not of the government or the country but of the Communist Party. Mr Xi stressed the same law to the assembled brass: the PLA is still the party’s army; it must uphold its “revolutionary traditions” and maintain absolute loyalty to its political masters. His words were a prelude to sweeping reforms in the PLA that have unfolded in the past month, touching almost every military institution.

The aim of these changes is twofold—to strengthen Mr Xi’s grip on the 2.3m-strong armed forces, which are embarrassingly corrupt at the highest level, and to make the PLA a more effective fighting force, with a leadership structure capable of breaking down the barriers between rival commands that have long hampered its modernisation efforts. It has taken a long time since the meeting in Gutian for these reforms to unfold; but that reflects both their importance and their difficulty.

The PLA itself has long admitted that it is lagging behind. It may have plenty of new weapons—it has just started to build a second aircraft-carrier, for instance—but it is failing to make effective use of them because of outdated systems of command and control. Before any substantial change in this area, however, Mr Xi felt it necessary to strengthen the party’s control over the PLA, lest it resist his reforms and sink back into a morass of money-grubbing.

The reforms therefore begin with the main instrument of party control, the Central Military Commission (CMC), which is chaired by Mr Xi. On January 11th the CMC announced that the PLA’s four headquarters—the organisations responsible for recruiting troops, procuring weapons, providing logistics and ensuring political supervision—had been split up, slimmed down and absorbed into the commission. Once these were among the most powerful organisations in the PLA, operating almost as separate fiefs. Now they have become CMC departments.

Power to the party

The political headquarters was the body through which the party kept an eye on the ranks and ensured they were up to speed on Maoist texts and the party’s latest demands. The loss of its autonomous status may suggest that the party’s role is being downgraded. Far from it. Now the party’s CMC (there is also a state one, which exists only in name) will be better able to keep watch. The body’s 15 new departments will include not only departments for politics but also for logistics, personnel management and fighting corruption. Mr Xi has already turned his guns on graft, imprisoning dozens of generals.

The second reform has been to put the various services on a more equal footing. The land forces have hitherto reigned supreme. That may have been fine when the PLA’s main job was to defend the country against an invasion across its land borders (until the 1980s the Soviet Union was considered the biggest threat). But now China has military ambitions in the South China Sea and beyond, and wants the ability to challenge American naval and air power in the western Pacific. A recent editorial in the Liberation Army Daily, a PLA mouthpiece, berated the armed forces for their “army-centric mindset”.

In addition to those for the navy and air force, a separate command has now been created for the army, which had previously run everything. On December 31st the CMC also announced the formation of a command responsible for space and cyberwarfare, as well as one for ballistic and cruise missiles (previously known as the Second Artillery Force, part of the army). There is also a new joint command with overall control of the various services, a little like America’s joint chiefs of staff.

Big changes are also afoot in regional command structures. China used to be divided into seven military regions. These were powerful and relatively self-contained; sharing or swapping troops and equipment was rare. Now, according to reports in the South China Morning Post, a newspaper in Hong Kong, the number will be reduced to five. Troops will be recruited and trained by the various services before regional deployment. This will ensure greater central control over the regions.

China has been talking about military reform for decades, but change has been glacial. Opposition within the armed forces has been intense. “If [reform] is not done properly,” wrote Sun Kejia and Han Xiao of the PLA National Defence University last month, “it could affect the stability of the armed forces or even all of society.” (The article was promptly removed from the Liberation Army Daily website.) Demobbed soldiers could make trouble—Mr Xi wants the number of troops to be cut by 300,000. State firms have been ordered to reserve 5% of jobs for laid-off veterans.

The recent reforms are more extensive than most Western observers had expected after the Gutian conference. But even so, they are incomplete. The army still holds sway over some appointments (all five chiefs of the new regional commands are army generals, for instance). The PLA has traditionally given higher status to combat units than to those providing communications, logistics, transport and the like, a misplaced emphasis in an age when information and communications are crucial in warfare. The reforms do little to correct that bias. Moreover, many details about them remain unclear. No one knows, for example, where the troop cuts will come from or what units will go into the new space and cyberwarfare command.

The first result of the reforms is likely to be confusion in the ranks, until the new system settles down. Dennis Blasko, an American observer of the PLA, says no one can be sure of the results until they are tested in battle. Amid the murk, only one man clearly seems to have got his way: Mr Xi.

From: http://www.economist.com/news/china/21688424-xi-jinping-reforms-chinas-armed-forcesto-his-own-advantage-xis-new-model-army

01/01/2016

‘The Miraculous History of China’s Two Palace Museums’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

In late 1948 and early 1949, toward the end of the Chinese civil war, Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek transported across the Taiwan Strait hundreds of thousands of valuable Chinese artifacts which are now stored in Taipei’s National Palace Museum. Along with its Palace Museum counterpart in Beijing – more famous as the Forbidden City – the museums serve as one of the most poignant reminders of the division of China.

Beijing’s Palace Museum, which celebrated its 90th anniversary in October, was established shortly after the last Chinese emperor, Pu Yi, was forced from his palace, where he had been allowed to stay even after the Chinese republic was founded in 1911.

Intellectuals at the time wanted to set up a Chinese museum along the lines of the great museums in Europe.

Today, millions visit both museums each year, crowding around artifacts such as the Jadeite Cabbage and the Meat-Shaped Stone in Taipei.

Among the visitors are huge tour groups of mainland Chinese tourists, as the Taipei government continues to liberalize travel policies for its neighbor amid a broader detente.

This week, a branch of the National Palace Museum housing exhibits from around Asia was inaugurated in the southern Taiwanese city of Chiayi.

In his book “The Miraculous History of China’s Two Palace Museums,” Hong Kong-based writer Mark O’Neill details the treacherous history of how some of China’s most precious artifacts were rescued from the invading Japanese imperial army in the 1930s and later transported to Taiwan, and the powerful symbolism of the museums.

Source: Writing China: Mark O’Neill, ‘The Miraculous History of China’s Two Palace Museums’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

17/11/2015

The north star | The Economist

ASKED what they think of Lu Hao, their governor, residents of Harbin, capital of the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang, often reply with the word xiaozi. This roughly translates as “young whippersnapper”.

Mr Lu’s youthfulness is indeed striking. Born in 1967, he is the youngest of China’s current provincial governors. He was also the youngest to hold most of his previous positions. Those include factory boss at a large state-owned enterprise, deputy mayor of Beijing and leader of the Communist Youth League, an important training ground for many a national leader.

China’s system of political succession produces occasional surprises, such as the purge three years ago of another provincial leader, Bo Xilai, on the eve of what appeared to be his likely elevation to the pinnacle of power, the Politburo Standing Committee, alongside Xi Jinping, who is now president. But at least since the Communist Party began institutionalising succession arrangements in the 1990s, high-flyers have often been easy to spot. Mr Lu is one of them.

His stint at the youth league was of greatest portent. The organisation is something like an American fraternity club (without the misbehaviour)—its members form close ties which are often maintained in their later careers. Its leaders have a tendency to move into high national office. Hu Yaobang, a party chief in the 1980s, grew to prominence in the league, as did Hu Jintao, Mr Xi’s predecessor. Li Keqiang, the current prime minister, is also an ex-head of the league. Mr Lu’s stint in that role from 2008-13 made him an obvious rising star. His subsequent promotion to a provincial governorship confirmed this impression.

Youth is on his side. The next rung on the ladder to the top may be induction into the 25-member Politburo, possibly as early as 2017. But it will not be until around the time of the party’s 20th congress in 2022—a year after its 100th birthday—that Mr Xi will retire and Mr Lu will have a chance to shine, likely as one of the (now seven) members of the Standing Committee. He will then be 55, a year older than Mr Xi was when he joined the body in 2007. That would give Mr Lu a good few years at the top: Standing Committee members are expected to retire around 70. He would be a member of what party officials already call the “sixth generation” of Communist leaders (the first having been led by Mao Zedong, Mr Xi representing the fifth).

There are several other likely members of the upcoming generation. They include Hu Chunhua, Mr Lu’s predecessor as head of the youth league who is now the party boss of the southern province of Guangdong; and Sun Zhengcai, the party chief of Chongqing, a south-western region. One rising star has already fallen, however. Su Shulin was thought to have bright prospects until he was removed as governor of coastal Fujian province after being snared in a corruption investigation in October.

China’s media often drop hints of who to watch. Mr Lu’s appointment as Heilongjiang’s governor (a few months after he became the youngest full member of the party’s 370-strong Central Committee) was accompanied by a flurry of celebratory articles in the party’s main mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, and other newspapers. They emphasised Mr Lu’s youth, impeccable work ethic and solid record of excellent performance in his previous jobs.

Source: The north star | The Economist

04/11/2015

Are Chinese ‘Too Rational’ for a Second Child? Interview With Mei Fong – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s announcement last week that it will let all couples have two children ended one of the most contentious birth restrictions in history–the one-child policy.

Implemented in 1980 to rein in explosive population growth during the Mao Zedong era, the one-child policy and its enforcement had myriad consequences, including forced abortions and sterilization. It placed the burden of elderly care on single children and fueled a gender imbalance. Some researchers also say a new generation of only children – or “little emperors” — are more pessimistic and less competitive than older generations with siblings. Now, the Chinese government is shifting course to offset the effects of a rapidly aging population and to avert labor shortages.

China Real Time spoke to Mei Fong, author of the book “One Child: The Past and Future of China’s Most Radical Experiment” and a former Wall Street Journal reporter, about the one-child policy and the unwinding of it. The book will be published in hardcover in January, but a digital edition was released Tuesday, Nov. 3. Below are edited excerpts of the interview: Mei Fong

Many couples say that despite changes in the policy, they will not have two children. What can the government do to promote births?

There was a recent Internet survey [on Chinese website Sina of 180,000 respondents who were asked if they wanted a second child] saying that 43% of people don’t want children. But there’s a difference of what people say and what they will do. A lot of people ideally want to have two so that they can have both a boy and a girl. The problem is that the one-child policy wasn’t the sole reason people weren’t and aren’t having children. For urban residents, the idea of having just one has been ingrained in them. It’s a social and economic decision and it would take a major mind shift to think of anything else.

People consider it almost it irresponsible to divert resources from any child.

One of the things that demographer Cai Yong said that has always stuck in my mind is that people are too rational for the business of having children.

Who are the likely candidates to have more children?

It’s the rich ones who will add a child. Wealthy people have been traveling to the U.S. for fertility services and U.S. passports , though it’s unclear how many. I know of one couple in Shanghai who had three children by going to the U.S. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

But it’s hard to make generalities about China. It’s a big place and we all know someone who has had a second child or third child.

Will that mean that a two-child policy will create a bigger upper class? And what will be the consequence? One of the things that the one-child policy has created already is an inequality gap. The spectrum hit the middle class, because the people above the middle class can afford to pay for it, while the ones below were often exempt. The one-child policy is adding to the class-struggle issues. It’s the rich people who have and will have bigger families. They’re the ones that can afford fertility treatment, because fertility is a major problem. They could always afford to pay the penalties [for having more than one child].

Several years ago, there was a study that said China’s single children, its little emperors,  were less competitive and less empathetic than those with siblings. Do you see that changing? I have some doubts about that because there have been many different studies on this. But certainly, they do seem to give themselves more pessimistic labeling, like diao si [roughly translated as loser], than others.

Source: Are Chinese ‘Too Rational’ for a Second Child? Interview With Mei Fong – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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