Nitpicking China, and the easing of the one-child policy

Some major news in China in the past week include the easing of the one-child policy for urban couples, and the country’s response to the aftermath of the devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines.

Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, leveling towns and leaving at least 3,000 dead. Major countries and the EU offered help immediately in the form of money, supplies and personnel. However China’s initial offer was a paltry $200,000, in comparison to several millions offered by the likes of US and Japan. This aroused some anger and ridicule around the world, but China later upped its aid to a much more respectable $1.6 million in supplies as well as personnel and even its hospital ship. However even this has not satisfied some observers, since it is still less than what countries like the US are offering. It seems that some media outlets and commentators have become a bit overzealous in their China criticisms, to the point where they appear to be focusing more on China’s response rather than the actual tragedy and relief efforts in the Philippines, keeping up a running tally of China’s aid offer whilst not explaining much about factors such as how China is still a developing country with a low GDP per capita (in other words, despite having the world’s second biggest economy it’s still a poor nation) and that its military, naval and overseas emergency response capabilities and responses are far smaller compared to the US and other developed nations like the UK. At times, I wondered what’s the real story – that one of the strongest typhoons in history hit the Philippines and the rescue and relief efforts, or simply China?
The Financial Times has a reasonable article, which does talk about China’s limitations in terms of hardware, training and resources. Meanwhile within China, many people don’t seem to be too displeased with the government with its aid, even the initial offer, and I’m not sure that all this negative coverage from Western media isn’t actually beneficial for the Chinese government. Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of issues to criticize the country and its rulers for, but to constantly find fault on seemingly everything, such as the subsequent aid offer from China to the Philippines, detracts from the more substantial issues.

The one-child policy is widely known but it’s not as simple as it sounds. Rural couples and ethnic minorities can have more than one child, with the latter possibly having no limits at all. Meanwhile urban couples in many cities are able to have a second child if both parents were single children, that is they have no siblings. This latter stipulation has been relaxed, rather than the general rule, so that urban couples can now legally have two children if only one parent was a single child. However, there might not be a baby boom due to factors like the high cost of living in cities, though one would think that baby product companies must have been salivating at the thought.


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