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CHINA: one child policy

Paul Simon answers my question about China's one child policy: "There are a LOT of exceptions to the 'one child policy' of the PRC: all minorities (that's hundreds of millions of folks), not just Manchus, can have two children. Farmers can have more kids (I THINK the rule is that if the first child is a girl, they can have a second child). Those willing to pay fines can have more. And many people just ignore the law. They say "Heaven is high and the emperor is far away" when one gets away from Beijing. With over 100,000 PRC officials removed from office for corruption last year (source: People's Daily), it probably wouldn't be hard to pay off local authorities to look the other way.

When the policy was implemented in the 70's, it was claimed that the population would not exceed 1 billion at year 2000. Last year's census was 1.26 billion. Experts believe the population is really over 1.3 billion. Evidence comes from the discrepancy between vaccination statistics and recorded births. According to a study published on the US Embassy website a few years back, vaccinations of newborns were 20% higher. Plus many children don't get vaccinated.

Does the policy work and is it necessary? I won't touch that one except to refer WAISers to a superb book: Jasper Becker's The Chinese. Becker has traveled to every corner of China, is a respected journalist, and a scholar, with several previous books well-received. In The Chinese, he points out that the PRC birthrate problem may actually be no better than of India, which does not have such a coercive policy. He suggests some alternatives and casts doubt on all the statistics".

Ronald Hilton - 2/23/02