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Published:April 18th, 2009 11:25 EST
The Economics of China`s One-Child Policy

The Economics of China`s One-Child Policy

By S Renee Greene

A Chinese woman by the name of Yi-Qin Chen a/k/a Yi-Chin Dhen, was ordered to leave the country in 1995. It is 2009, she is still here. Why?


She came to America with one child, but she will be returning to China with three, two of them born in America. Fear of persecution because of her children is her reason for not wanting to return and she likely has good reason to be afraid.


The 11th Circuit Court states simply, Chen`s petition for review is denied. The [Board of Immigration Appeals] did not err in dismissing her appeal from the [Immigration Judge`s] order denying her motion to file a successive asylum application based on changed personal circumstances. "


Ms Chen/Dhen will be deported, along with the two children who were born on US soil.


It has been nearly 30 years since China`s one-child policy went into effect. It was a controversial policy from the start, one which involved the help of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFP). Over the past 30 years, President Reagan stopped the fund, Clinton restored it, Bush stopped it again, and now President Obama has restored it once again.


American pro-life advocates are wary of the Fund`s methods, which they believe have led to coercive tactics in China, included forced abortions and forced sterilization. Mr. Stephen Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute (PRI) and a longtime critic of China`s one-child policy, sent a private team to China`s Sihui county in Guangdong province in 2001 to investigate UNFP`s involvement with China`s population program.


The team found that voluntary family planning was virtually nonexistent and forced abortions and sterilizations were official policy. Women who refused the procedures risked punitive fines, destruction of their homes and even imprisonment, according to a subsequent report filed by the team. The Sihui county office was consequently shut down.


The initial goal in 1979 was to get the country`s population down to 1.2 billion by year 2000 and, according to the Chinese government, that number in 2000 was actually 1.27 billion. China states that it cut down on an estimated 400 to 500 million births, but some say those numbers are misleading and that China`s population is actually being underestimated.


Has the policy helped the China environment and economy as planned? How long will they keep it up, or will the temporary restraints ever be lifted, especially since China claims they have worked so well? Last question first. According to China`s family planning minister, Zhang Weiqing, the one-child policy will stay in place for at least another decade.


Wayne Feng of the University of California-Irvine headed a team of independent Chinese and foreign academics studying the problem. Their findings indicated that not only is the lowered population more likely due to a trend with lowered fertility rates that began 10 years prior to the implementation of the policy, but that it (the policy) has not always helped China solve wider problems. Reducing the number of people, for example, does not automatically help the environment, " as China has since discovered. The study team seems to believe that China will soon face serious consequences " as a result of not relaxing the policy to allow at least two children per family.


Since that time, the policy has only been loosened only for minority groups in experimental peasant " areas, where the guidelines state that the parents have to wait until later in life to marry and put at least five years distance between the first and second child.


Cheng Enfu, dean of the Marxist research institute at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, answered the question, Do you think the one-child policy has been effective? "


He stated that the policy has reduced the population by 350 million and that it should be further supported. Without the policy, China`s per capita income, resource and living standards would have been far lower than current level. Unemployment, environmental degradation, and urbanization problems would have been worse, he says. The dynamic goals of curbing population, relieving social burden and improving population quality have yet to be completely reached and should be more strictly carried on. Cheng also feels that if both China`s rural and urban areas age, it is an indication of higher living standards, better health care and longer life expectancies, which is a good thing.


On the darker side of the fence, however, there are existing social practices which exacerbate the intended purpose of the one-child policy. For instance, sex-selective abortions (since the number of girls born has outnumbered the males, China has employed a Little Emperor " incentive for those who have boys, which has not only resulted in more cases of infanticide, but also stimulated neglect and abandonment over adoption, particularly of little girls who are subsequently picked up by gangs who use them for many illicit activities. Also, there is an increase in "illegal` children, who are then sent off to remote areas where they are harder to trace; as well as an increase in bride selling, " another form of human trafficking, and what we in America might call sexism. " In spite of all this, however, there are many women in China who are in favor of the one-child policy and state that they are too busy with other things " to care for more children.


While it is certainly not the Circuit Court`s job to investigate the matters Ms Chen/Dhen presented, she certainly has logical reason to fear possible persecution on her return. An immigration judge in America should not overlook the "experimental` nature by which Ms Chen/Dhen`s return to China will affect her family. There are no pre-indicators of what will happen to a woman who was under political asylum in the USA after she returns to her homeland with two American-born children; children that are, essentially, already against the policy.


When she is sent back, there is the hope that she will at least be shipped to the minority and more poverty-stricken areas where the policies have been somewhat relaxed only for experimental purposes. She may have a better chance of surviving amongst those who have less.