The Chinese government wants to stave off demographic catastrophe. Problem is, the Chinese people don’t care what the government thinks.
Over the past decade or more, we’ve talked on BreakPoint about China’s looming fertility crisis. This, of course, is the result of the Communist Party instituting what became known as the “one-child policy” back in 1979.
With very few exceptions, Chinese couples were permitted to have only one child. The policy, in the words of the Washington Post, “led to untold millions of forced abortions, sterilizations and horrific abuses of power.”
It also led to a huge demographic problem. As birthrates plummeted, there were fewer and fewer workers, and China’s overall population aged rapidly. China, instead of growing rich and then getting old, like European nations and Japan, will grow old long before it has a chance to get rich.
This has the Communist Party very worried. So worried that they’ve done an about face. They not only dropped the “one-child policy,” they’ve tried to convince Chinese couples that having two kids is their patriotic and political duty.
Clumsy party propaganda is telling people to “Train your body, build up strength, get ready for the second baby!” Another slogan read “Get to sleep early, stop playing cards, work hard to produce a child!”
The response? Yawns and outrage. You see, after 35 years of being told “one child is enough,” people have come to believe it. As a recent article in the Washington Post put it, “Having only one has become ingrained in Chinese culture and society, and people no longer believe the party should be telling them what to do in the bedroom.”
Actually, that’s an understatement. When officials in Hubei province, east of Shanghai, sent a letter to party members urging them to implement the new “two-child policy,” the result was “outrage” on Chinese social media.
One person wrote “You can’t just make people have kids when you want them to, or stop when you tell them, we are humans not pigs!” Even state-run media called the letter “ridiculous and illegal.”
The Chinese people’s response, or lack of it, has put the Party’s plans to arrest the demographic decline in doubt. Its goals were 2.5 million births this year. That is not going to happen. Even with the new policy, “in the long run it is very unlikely that fertility will go above 1.5 children per couple” according to Wang Feng of UC-Irvine. That’s even lower than it is today!
This past summer, I called the “one-child policy” a “self-inflicted” wound. I said that China’s demographic crisis is ultimately a worldview problem. Quoting my friend John Stonestreet, I pointed out that “The secular and certainly communist worldviews see children as commodities: subject either to parents’ desires and ‘lifestyle choices’ or to a government’s economic and political goals.”
In contrast, “Christianity sees children as gifts of God: the natural, desirable result of the loving, lifelong commitment and physical union of husband and wife.”
That is why the efforts of the Communist Party are doomed to fail: They don’t understand the problem. What’s more, as we talked about yesterday on BreakPoint, the party is bent on persecuting Christians, the very people who could help them and the Chinese people make sense of what’s going on. So the Chinese government is doomed to exhort and cajole and, in turn, to be ignored and even criticized.
As the saying goes “ideas have consequences,” to which I would like to add, “and really disastrous ideas have consequences that endure long after the disaster has become obvious to everyone involved.”
Chinese Government Urges People to Make Babies: Chinese People Tell Government to Mind Its Own Business
Children are a gift from God, not a result of a government’s policy edict. Learn more about the spiritual as well as demographic significance of China’s problem by clicking on the resources listed below.
Guns or Canes?: China’s Self-Inflicted Wound
Eric Metaxas | BreakPoint.org | July 5, 2016
China’s Two-Child Policy: New Number, Same Disaster
John Stonestreet | BreakPoint.org | November 9, 2015
China’s Twilight Years
Howard W. French | The Atlantic | June 2016
‘China’s Worst Policy Mistake’?
Nicolas Kristof | New York Review of Books | April 7, 2016
Available at the online bookstore
God’s Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian’s Fight for Freedom
Bob Fu, Nancy French | Baker Books | September 2014