China's New 'One Child' Policy.
After a little bit of consternation over my payment (apparently not many people pay for themselves - usually my 'firm' would have transferred monies) they accompanied me to my room and made me feel thoroughly welcome.
"If you would like, I shall accompany you through the Forum. Would you like that?"
Lisa was a gracious and helpful companion. Through her I learnt a lot about Chinese life today. Lisa is about the same age as my sons and so grew up in a China where all the pupils in the school were only children. I have heard that through the one-child policy some people have thought that China is raising a nation of 'little emperors' with that child the focus of six adults' (two parents and four grandparents) aspirations and hopes. The responsibilities of that child are onerous - and likely to become more so as the parents and grandparents age and become dependent.
When I asked Lisa what she thought about the policy she didn't have much of an opinion. As she said, everyone in her class at school had no siblings so no one thought very much about it. I suppose if everyone around you is an only child it becomes the norm.
"I once asked my mother if she would have liked more children," Lisa said. "But she told me I was quite enough! Bringing up a child is expensive..." And I suppose Lisa's mother would have been born about the same time as me - when China had suffered such drought and flooding that there had been a famine and many had died of starvation. Lisa's mother would have grown up in a period of deprivation, and I expect 'one child' would have seemed eminently sensible in a country with too many mouths to feed.
Overpopulation is a difficult problem, and China's one-child solution has led to problems of its own. Since sons and their wives are the ones that traditionally look after the parents, daughters are seen by some as less desirable and this has led to stories of baby girls being abandoned or killed and, recently, to clinics which allow parents to select male foetuses (and discard the female ones). This in turn has led to an imbalance of more males than females, and there are stories of the difficulties of rural males finding a wife. Eligible females are in danger of being kidnapped according to one guide I read (China A to Z), and it warned marriageable lone females of Asiatic origin to be on their guard when travelling alone.
But recently things have changed, Lisa told me. In fact I was told this fact whenever I asked anyone about the one child policy. Now, in China, if both marriage partners are only children they are now allowed to have two offspring. Two, I suppose, is a better answer. Not all of those offspring will have children of their own, and so the population might level out and even decrease - but without all the problems experienced by the harsher 'one child' of the past. I suppose this will also go some way to ease the burden on the future young - looking after aging parents is so much easier when there is a sibling to share the burden.