Monday, March 3, 2008

Setting the Record Straight.... Sort of

When my only-child colleagues say they're going to visit their brother or they saw their sister last weekend, they really mean their cousin.

Most of the post-80s generation have no siblings so they adopt their cousins as their surrogate brother or sister.

And a few days ago it looked like the Chinese government was seriously considering scrapping the one-child policy -- albeit gradually.

Zhao Baige, vice minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission revealed last week the method of population control was causing serious economic and demographic problems.

"This has become a big issue among decision makers," she said during a regular press conference in Beijing. "We want to have this change incrementally. I cannot answer at what time and how."

The policy was implemented in 1979 as a means to control the exploding population. Since then there have been amendments to the rules, such as those in the countryside are allowed to have two children if the first is a girl, and all couples can try again if the first-born is mentally or physically disabled.

Fines are imposed on those who flout the rules, and recently the government vowed to crack down on those, particularly wealthy families who have more than one child.

It has also led to thousands of women getting forced abortions or even sterilizations. The situation has also led to a disproportionately large number of young males compared to other countries.

Some experts are concerned about the impending growing elderly population which will become a huge financial and physical burden for the little emperors and empresses when they grow into young adults.

However, in a complete about face, the government yesterday denied it was considering scrapping the controversial policy.

The headline in the Beijing News was "News of abandoning one-child policy is inconsistent with the facts".

"This report is incorrect, its content is not verified," the newspaper cited the National Population and Family Planning Commission's publicity and education department.

"China will continue to pursue even better its population and family planning policy."

One wonders what happened with the message management -- if Zhao was not properly informed on what she could and couldn't reveal, or she inadvertently leaked something that wasn't confirmed.

Either way, it looks like the Chinese flubbed up on handling this issue and time will tell if Zhao still has her job or not.

1 comment:

Blog Ramblings said...

It may be different up in Beijing but in Hong Kong culture, the children of male siblings are always called brother or sister even though they are cousins. This is not the case when cousins are related through either mother. This has no connection to any social backlash to the one child policy. Although I'm sure such a drastic government policy has major implications that will be present for many years to come.