Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday Globe Special: China's Baby Bust

"Ending ‘one child’ limits, China pushes women to have more babies" by Steven Lee Myers New York Times   August 11, 2018

BEIJING — For decades, China harshly restricted the number of babies that women could have. Now it is encouraging them to have more. It is not going well.

Almost three years after easing its “one child” policy and allowing couples to have two children, the government has begun to acknowledge that its efforts to raise the country’s birthrate are faltering because parents are deciding against having more children.

Officials are now scrambling to devise ways to stimulate a baby boom, worried that a looming demographic crisis could imperil economic growth — and undercut the ruling Communist Party and its leader, Xi Jinping.

It is a startling reversal for the party, which only a short time ago imposed punishing fines on most couples who had more than one child and compelled hundreds of millions of Chinese women to have abortions or undergo sterilization operations. China is the world’s most populous nation, with more than 1.4 billion people.

The new campaign has raised fear that China may go from one invasive extreme to another in getting women to have more children. Some provinces are already tightening access to abortion or making it more difficult to get divorced.

“To put it bluntly, the birth of a baby is not only a matter of the family itself, but also a state affair,” the official newspaper People’s Daily said in an editorial this week, prompting widespread criticism and debate online.

I didn't think you could criticize the government online, so it must just be a gesture of good will. Good thing the Europeans have our back, even as they are negotiating with China, who on track to surpass the United States as Europe's largest trading partner in the coming years (what was all that ZTE stuff about anyway?) 

Time to take the plunge and step away from heavy use of social media. Facebook is going to field a million woman army and it all seems "pretty confusing," according to Adam Segal over at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

In what appeared to be a trial balloon to test public sentiment, the provincial government in Shaanxi, in central China, last month called on Beijing to abolish all birth limits and let people have as many children as they want.

The proposal is politically fraught because removing the last remaining checks on family size would be another reminder that a policy that touched every Chinese family and reshaped society — most Chinese millennials, for example, have no siblings — may have been deeply flawed.

“Among regular people, among scholars, there’s enough consensus already about the policy,” said Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, a research organization in Beijing. “It’s just a matter of time before they can lift this policy.”

A plan to end the two-child limit was floated during the legislative session in Beijing last spring and now appears to be under consideration with other measures, the National Health Commission said in a statement.

Experts say the government has little choice but to encourage more births. China is aging quickly, with a smaller workforce left to support a growing elderly population that is living longer. Some provinces have already reported difficulties meeting pension payments.

And the Chinese are big on harmony.

It is unclear whether lifting the two-child limit now will make much of a difference. As in many countries, educated women in Chinese cities are postponing childbirth as they pursue careers. Young couples are also struggling with economic pressures, including rising housing and education costs.

The “one child” policy also resulted in more boys than girls being born. Some parents obtained abortions because the fetuses were female, reflecting traditional preferences for male children, though such selective abortions were illegal.

Because of that and other factors, there are now simply fewer women to marry and bear children.

In advance of any policy changes nationally, local governments are already taking steps to promote childbirth.

In Liaoning, a province in the northeast with one of the nation’s lowest birthrates, officials last month proposed an array of new benefits for young families, including tax breaks, housing and education subsidies, and longer maternity and paternity leaves, as well as investments in clinics and preschools.

In Jiangxi province, in the southeast, the government has adopted a more intrusive approach, reissuing guidelines for when women can get abortions. Though the rules were not new, the move raised fears that authorities intend to enforce them more strictly, including a requirement that women who are more than 14 weeks pregnant obtain three signatures from medical personnel before an abortion.

Officials said the guidelines were meant to enforce the law prohibiting couples from aborting a female fetus in hopes of having a boy — though they acknowledged that keeping the official birthrate up was also a consideration.

Two other provinces have tightened the requirements for couples to divorce, saying the changes were made in part to keep alive the possibility of new offspring.

Wasn't there some sort of vaccine scandal in China not too long ago?

Such measures have revived longstanding complaints about the government’s invasive control over women’s bodies.

“Women cannot decide what happens to their own ovaries,” one user complained on Weibo, a popular microblogging platform, after Jiangxi detailed the abortion guidelines in July.

China has blogs? 

No kidding?

One recent government study estimated that China’s labor force could lose 100 million people from 2020 to 2035, then another 100 million from 2035 to 2050. It warned of pressure on “economic and social development,” budget resources and the environment.

Like I tell the kids over here, there is always the army.

Of course, China isn't really intere$ted in them at all.

Maybe they can recycle you, and it really isn't their fault (they just ship it back anyway).

The economic imperatives have prompted some private companies to act on their own.

Ctrip, the world’s second-largest online travel company after Priceline, already offers a variety of benefits to support parents, like taxi rides to and from the office during pregnancies and bonuses when employees’ children reach school age.....


You know who pumps out the kids?

"Thousands protest China plan to demolish mosque" by Yanan Wang Associated Press  August 11, 2018

BEIJING — A newspaper of the ruling Communist Party said Saturday that no religion is above the law in China, urging officials to stay firm while dealing with a rare protest over the planned demolition of a massive mosque in the northwest of the country.

The Global Times newspaper said local officials in the town of Weizhou in Ningxia, a region that’s home to many ethnic minority Hui Muslims, must act against what it described as an illegal expansion of a religious building.

Thousands of Muslims gathered at the mosque on two days last week to protest the planned demolition in a rare public response to the government’s efforts to rewrite how religions are practiced in the country.

Is it? 

I read above they criticize and debate online.

A large crowd of Hui people began congregating at the towering Grand Mosque in the town of Weizhou on Thursday, local Hui residents said.

‘‘People are in a lot of pain,’’ said Ma Sengming, a 72-year-old man who was at the protest from Thursday morning until Friday afternoon. ‘‘Many people were crying. We can’t understand why this is happening.’’

Ma said the group shouted ‘‘Protect faith in China!’’ and ‘‘Love the country, love the faith!’’

The protest comes as faith groups that were largely tolerated in the past have seen their freedoms shrink as the government seeks to ‘‘Sinicize’’ religions by making the faithful prioritize allegiance to the officially atheist ruling Communist Party.

Islamic crescents and domes have been stripped from mosques, Christian churches have been shut down and Bibles seized, and Tibetan children have been moved from Buddhist temples to schools.

Just found out the Dalai Lama might be a pedophile (#145 in your program), and it doesn't surprise me at all. Seems to be a problem with all religions (save one).

The residents of Weizhou were alarmed by news that the government was planning to demolish the mosque despite initially appearing to approve its construction, which was completed just last year.

The town’s Communist Party secretary had even made a congratulatory speech at the site when the mosque’s construction began, said Ma Zhiguo, a resident in his late 70s.

The authorities planned to take down eight out of the nine domes topping the mosque on the grounds that the structure was built larger than permitted, Ma said, but community members were standing their ground, he added.

‘‘How could we allow them to tear down a mosque that is still in good condition?’’ he said, adding that the mosque conducts prayers attended by about 30,000 Muslims and was built using believers’ personal funds.

Photos online show the mosque to be a palatial white structure, with towering columns, vertical windows, and a Chinese national flag erected out front.

Officials in the county and city propaganda offices said they were not aware of the situation. Other local authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.

In May, the county disciplinary inspection commission published a notice saying that Weizhou authorities had failed to properly oversee the construction of the Grand Mosque.

Ma Sengming said protesters remained at the mosque through the night from Thursday to Friday and were twice visited by a local official who encouraged them to go home. Ma said the official did not make any specific promises, but tried to assure the protesters that the government would work with them on the matter.

More than a hundred police officers surrounded the mosque, but did not attempt to stop the protest, according to Ma.

Public demonstrations are rare in China, where the government is often quick to quash any hint of dissent. Under President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party is cracking down on religious expression and attacking what it calls radical ideas among the country’s more than 20 million Muslims.

Print copy ended there.

In the far west region of Xinjiang, following sporadic violent attacks by radical Muslim separatists, hundreds of thousands of members of the Uighur and Kazakh Muslim minorities have been arbitrarily detained in indoctrination camps where they are forced to denounce Islam and profess loyalty to the party. 

It's the exact opposite here.

Compared with those ethnic groups, the Hui are culturally much closer to China’s Han majority, similar in appearance and speaking a variation of the mainstream Mandarin language, but recently, reports said authorities have shut down Hui religious schools and Arabic classes and barred children from participating in Muslim activities.

James Leibold, a scholar of Chinese ethnic policies at Melbourne’s La Trobe University, said the proposed demolition of the Weizhou mosque appeared to be part of a recent ‘‘far more assimilatory policy’’ toward ethnic minorities.

‘‘The ultimate agenda is to erode minority identity and create a sense of belonging and connection to Chinese identity and Chinese culture,’’ Leibold said.....

That is also why USrael smashes nations into rubble. The refugees scatter and the cultural identity is lost for them and eroded in the places to which they flee.


Did you know that China has a long-standing system that allows people to petition the government over grievances (the attack on the embassy happened just down the road from Israel's)?

Must be why protests are rare. 

Now the Chines are flying warplanes overhead, and did you know China has two aircraft carriers

I wouldn't bet on a cakewalk if I were you, especially if the missiles start flying.