Transcript: China's Only Children | Nov 13, 2018

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and checked blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "China's only children. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says IT WAS THE MOST
AMBITIOUS EFFORT AT POPULATION
CONTROL THROUGH FAMILY PLANNING
THAT THE MODERN WORLD HAD EVER
SEEN.
CHINA'S ONE-CHILD POLICY IS NO
MORE, BUT THE EFFECTS LINGER,
PARTICULARLY IN THE GENERATIONS
THAT GREW UP AS STATE-MANDATED
ONLY CHILDREN.
JOINING US NOW ON THAT:
LYNETTE ONG, SHE'S ASSOCIATE
PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
AT U OF T's MUNK SCHOOL OF
GLOBAL AFFAIRS AND PUBLIC POLICY...

Lynette is in her forties, with straight black hair in a bun. She's wearing a black blazer over a red shirt.

Steve continues AND YUJIA SHI, RESEARCH
ASSISTANT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF
TORONTO, WHO GREW UP AN ONLY
CHILD IN CHINA.

Yujia is in her early thirties, with straight black hair in a short bob. She's wearing a multi-coloured shirt.

Steve continues LYNETTE, NICE TO HAVE YOU BACK.
YOU WERE JUST HERE A FEW WEEKS
AGO.
SO NICE TO MEET YOU.
SO GLAD YOU TO MAKE SOME TIME
FOR US.
I DON'T WANT TO ASSUME EVERYBODY
HAS THE BACKGROUND ON THIS.
WE'RE GOING TO PUT A FEW FACTS
UP HERE.
SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD, THIS
GRAPHIC.
WE'LL TAKE PEOPLE THROUGH THE
LAST NEARLY 40 YEARS OF THIS
EXPERIMENT.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "China's population control experiment."

The slate shows that in 1979 a limit of one child per family was imposed.

Steve says FIVE YEARS LATER, CHINA ADJUSTED
THE POLICY, ALLOWING A SECOND
CHILD IN SPECIFIED
CIRCUMSTANCES, INCLUDING SOME
FAMILIES IN RURAL AREAS, AND FOR
COUPLES WHO WERE BOTH AN ONLY
CHILD.
IN 2001, NEW LAWS ARE BROUGHT IN
TO MANAGE THE POLICY, INCLUDING
PENALTIES AND FINES FOR
UNAPPROVED BIRTHS AND ADDITIONAL
CHILDREN.
FIVE YEARS AGO, CHINA EASES THE
ONE-CHILD POLICY, MAKING SOME
EXEMPTIONS.
AND THEN IN 2015, THE ONE-CHILD
POLICY IS OFFICIALLY ABANDONED.
LYNETTE, GET US STARTED HERE.
HOW TRANSFORMATIVE WAS THIS
POLICY ON CHINA?

The caption changes to "Lynette Ong. Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy."
Then, it changes again to "The one-child policy."

Lynette says SO THE POPULATION CONTROL ACTUALLY STARTED IN THE EARLY '50s.
BUT THEN IN 1979, WHEN
XI JINPING WANTED TO DEVELOP A
MARKET ECONOMY, THAT WAS AT THE
END OF THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION,
AND THE BIG LEAP FORWARD IN THE
'50s WHICH RESULTED IN THE
GREATEST FAMINE IN THE WORLD
THAT WAS STILL VERY FRESH IN
PEOPLE'S MIND.
SO THERE IS AN IDEA THAT, YOU
KNOW, WE HAVE TO CONTROL THE
POPULATION TO LIMIT THE NUMBER
OF MOUTHS WE HAVE TO FEED IN
ORDER TO GROW THE ECONOMY.
BUT THE UNDERLYING IDEA IS
REALLY THE IDEA THAT UNCHECKED
POPULATION GROWTH IS GOING TO
RESULT IN AN IMBALANCE OF FOOD
SUPPLY AND RESULT IN HUNGER.
THANKS TO GOVERNMENT PROPAGANDA,
THIS IS A DEEPLY HELD SOCIAL
BELIEF IN CHINA THAT
POPULATION-WISE, CHINA IS THE
MOST POPULACE COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.
ITS POPULATION SIZE IS TO BLAME
FOR A LOT OF SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC
PROBLEMS.

Steve says YUJIA, OBVIOUSLY YOU
WEREN'T ALIVE WHEN THIS POLICY
WAS BROUGHT IN.
BASED ON WHAT YOU KNOW AT THE
TIME, DID IT MAKE SENSE FOR
CHINA TO BRING IN A ONE-CHILD POLICY?

The caption changes to "Yujia Shi. University of Toronto."

Yujia says BACK THEN
ACCORDING TO THE HISTORY OF
CHINA, THE PROFESSOR JUST SAID
CHINA WAS A VERY POPULIST
COUNTRY AND THERE WAS A WORK
SHORTAGE BACK IN THE 1950s,
AND ON TOP OF THAT THERE WAS
FORESEEABLE UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE
COUNTRY, AND THERE WERE A LOT OF
ENVIRONMENTAL PRESSURES.

Steve says WAS THERE GREAT FEAR
IN THE LAND THAT THE POPULATION
WAS EXPLODING?

Yujia says EXACTLY.

Steve says THERE WAS?
LYNETTE, WAS THERE
OPPOSITION TO THIS POLICY?

Lynette says WELL, YES,
THERE WAS OPPOSITION, BECAUSE
IT'S A VERY HARSH AND SOMETIMES EVEN VIOLENT POLICY.
THERE WAS GREAT FEAR THAT THE
POPULATION IS GOING TO GROW
UNCHECKED, AND THE OFFICIAL
FIGURES SUGGEST THAT 400 MILLION
BIRTHS HAVE BEEN PREVENTED.
BUT, YOU KNOW, SCHOLARS,
PARTICULARLY IN THE U.S. AND
SOME WITHIN CHINA, DEMOGRAPHERS
WOULD ARGUE THAT WITHOUT THE
VERY STRICT ONE-CHILD POLICY,
YOU WOULD HAVE KEPT POPULATION
GROWTH VERY MUCH CHECKED WITH
INCREASED INCOME LEVEL, CHANGING
OCCUPATION, CHANGING LIVES,
LIFESTYLE.
PEOPLE WANT, YOU KNOW, VARIOUS
THINGS, AND THEY WOULD LIMIT
POPULATION GROWTH IN ANY CASE,
YOU ONLY NEED TO LOOK AT JAPAN,
SOUTH KOREA, SINGAPORE, WITH
SIMILAR CULTURAL VALUES, BUT
WITH INCREASING INCOME LEVELS.
YOU KNOW, POPULATION GROWTH HAS
BEEN DECLINING.
SO PEOPLE ARGUE THAT, YOU KNOW,
CHINA WAS GOING TO GO THROUGH
LOWER FERTILITY RATES ANYWAY,
EVEN WITHOUT ONE-CHILD POLICY.

Steve says YOU KNOW, YUJIA, TO
WESTERN SENSIBILITIES, THE
NOTION THAT THE GOVERNMENT CAN
TELL YOU HOW MANY CHILDREN YOU
ARE ALLOWED TO HAVE IS
OUTRAGEOUS.
I MEAN, WE WOULD NEVER STAND FOR
THIS IN THE WEST, RIGHT?

Yujia says MM-HMM.

Steve says DO YOU RECALL HAVING
ANY CONVERSATIONS WITH YOUR
PARENTS ABOUT BEING TOLD BY THE
GOVERNMENT, "YOU ARE ONLY
ALLOWED TO HAVE ONE CHILD AND
THAT'S IT"?

Yujia says WELL, THERE WERE DISCUSSIONS
RELATED TO, LIKE, IN MY FAMILY,
OBVIOUSLY, IN THE COMMUNITY I
LIVE IN, OR MORE LIKE, OKAY, WE
HAVE ONE CHILD AND THERE'S A LOT
OF PRESSURE TO RAISE ONLY ONE
KID BECAUSE YOU HAVE A LOT OF
EXPECTATIONS ON THE ONE.
BUT THERE WEREN'T SO MUCH
OPPOSITION AGAINST THE POLICY
PER SE.
I WOULD SAY IT'S REALLY BECAUSE
THE CULTURE AND THE STATE OF
SOCIETY RELATIONS IN CHINA IS
QUITE DIFFERENT FROM THE WEST.

Steve says HOW OLD WERE YOU
WHEN YOU HAD YOUR FIRST... DO
YOU REMEMBER THIS... WHETHER YOU
HAD A CONVERSATION WITH YOUR
PARENTS ABOUT THE FACT, WHY AM I
AN ONLY CHILD?
WHY DON'T I HAVE BROTHERS AND
SISTERS?

Yujia says I DIDN'T REALLY ASK THAT
BECAUSE BACK IN 1990, IT WAS AT
THE PEAK OF THE IMPLEMENTATION
OF THE POLICY, SO I DIDN'T
REALLY QUESTION IT BECAUSE IT
WAS NORMAL ACTIVITY IN CHINA.
ALL MY FRIENDS WERE ONLY
CHILDREN.
AND ALL THE KIDS IN MY COMMUNITY
WERE ALL ONLY CHILD.
I DIDN'T QUESTION WHY I'M THE
ONLY CHILD.
BUT MY PARENTS WOULD ASK ME,
LIKE A JOKE, THEY WOULD BE
LIKE, "DO YOU WANT TO HAVE A
BROTHER OR SISTER?"
OR DO YOU WANT TO HAVE A
SIBLING?
I WAS TOO YOUNG TO COMPREHEND
WHAT IT ACTUALLY MEANT.
I WOULD ALWAYS BE, LIKE, NO.
I ALWAYS WANT TO BE THE ONLY ONE.

Steve says YOU DIDN'T MIND
BEING AN ONLY CHILD.
YOU DID NOT WANT A SIBLING.

Yujia says BACK THEN, NO.

Steve says WHY NOT?

Yujia says BECAUSE I THINK IT'S HARD
TO... LIKE, AS A KID, IT'S HARD
TO THINK OF A LOT OF
ALTERNATIVES AND WHAT THE
SITUATION WOULD BE LIKE IF I HAD
ANOTHER SIBLING.
BECAUSE I'M SO COMFORTABLE BEING
THE ONLY CHILD AND EVERYBODY
ELSE IS THE ONLY CHILD, SO I
WOULDN'T REALLY QUESTION...

Steve says YOU'RE HAPPY TO HAVE
THE MONOPOLY ON YOUR PARENTS'
ATTENTION... OKAY.
I GET IT.
I GET IT.
WE MENTIONED EARLIER, LYNETTE,
THERE WERE EXEMPTIONS MADE OVER
THE YEARS, SOME EXCEPTIONS WERE
MADE.
HOW COME?

Lynette says WELL, THERE
WERE SOME EXCEPTIONS MADE, BUT
THERE WERE NO EXCEPTIONS IN
DENSELY POPULATED URBAN AREAS.
PEOPLE IN URBAN AREAS ARE
STRICTLY TO HAVE ONLY ONE CHILD.
RURAL AREAS, IF THE FIRST CHILD
IS A GIRL OR IF THE FIRST CHILD
COMES WITH SOME SORT OF
DISABILITY, THEY COULD HAVE A
SECOND CHILD.
AND ALSO IN ETHNIC MINORITIES
AREAS.
EVEN THOUGH THAT RELAXATION HAS
RECENTLY BEEN TIGHTENED.

Steve says CAN I JUST FOLLOW UP
ON THAT FOR A SECOND.
YOU SAY ETHNIC MINORITIES.
SOME ETHNIC MINORITIES WERE
ALLOWED TO HAVE MORE THAN ONE
CHILD AS OPPOSED TO THE MAJORITY
CHINA WHO WERE NOT.
WHY WOULD THAT BE?

Lynette says THIS IS PART OF THE
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FOR ETHNIC
MINORITIES.
SO ETHNIC MINORITIES IN TIBET
AND SICHUAN AREAS, THEY GOT
GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES FOR A BUNCH
OF OTHER THINGS.
AND PART OF THAT AFFIRMATIVE
ACTION IS THAT THEY ARE ALLOWED
TO HAVE UP TO TWO TO THREE AND
SOMETIMES FOUR CHILDREN.

Steve says HOW WOULD THE
GOVERNMENT POLICE THIS TO ENSURE
THAT YOU DID NOT HAVE A SECOND
CHILD IF YOU WERE NOT ALLOWED TO?

Lynette says THAT IS DONE VERY, VERY
HARSHLY AND IT'S PART OF THIS
POPULATION ENGINEERING.
VERY STRICT IMPLEMENTATION OF
THIS POLICY.
SO THERE'S FORCED STERILIZATION.
THERE IS FORCED ABORTION.
AND WHEN I SAY "FORCED," IT'S
NON-ELECTIVE SURGERY.
WE OFTEN HEAR STORIES ABOUT
VILLAGE OFFICIALS GOING INTO
PEOPLE'S HOME, DRAG WOMEN OUT OF
THEIR HOMES AND, YOU KNOW, FORCE
THEM TO GO TO CLINICS TO HAVE
ABORTIONS.
AND THIS IS OBVIOUSLY A HUMAN
RIGHTS ABUSE.
THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF DEBATE AND
CONTROVERSY ABOUT THAT.
BUT THE KEY REASON WHY THESE
POLICIES WERE SO SUCCESSFULLY
IMPLEMENTED IS BECAUSE IT'S
REALLY ENTRENCHED IN THE
BUREAUCRATIC CRITERIA, HOW LOCAL
OFFICIALS ARE BEING EVALUATED,
RIGHT?
SO THE LOCAL OFFICIALS ARE GIVEN
A LIST OF CRITERIA, A LIST OF
TASKS TO DO, AND ONE OF THE ONES
WITH VETO POWER IS ACTUALLY
ONE-CHILD POLICY.
IF YOU FAIL TO ACHIEVE THAT, YOU
ARE CONSIDERED TO HAVE FAILED IN
ALL THE TASKS.

Steve says SO YOU'RE NOT GOING
TO MOVE UP THE FOOD CHAIN IF YOU
ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN?

Lynette says NO.
FOR PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY HAVE
MORE THAN ONE CHILD, THEY GET
SLAPPED WITH HUGE FINES.
AND THOSE FINES GO ON TO
SUBSIDIZE THE BUDGETS OF LOCAL
GOVERNMENTS.
SO YOU CAN SEE WHERE THE
INCENTIVES COME FROM.
WHICH IS WHY, YOU KNOW, THIS
POLICY HAS BEEN OVERLY
SUCCESSFUL IN MOST PLACES.

Steve says YUJIA, DID YOU EVER
DISCUSS WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN TO
YOUR PARENTS WITH THEM IF THEY
WERE TO HAVE ANOTHER CHILD?

Yujia says I DID.
ACTUALLY, I THINK THE
INFORMATION FROM MY PARENTS IS
MY MOM WOULD LOSE HER JOB
BECAUSE SHE WAS IN A GARMENT
AFFILIATED INSTITUTION.

Steve says IN WHICH CITY?

Yujia says IT'S IN THE MIDDLE PART OF
CHINA.

Steve says DID THEY EVER SAY TO
YOU, WE'D LIKE TO HAVE ANOTHER
CHILD, BUT IT'S AGAINST THE LAW,
WE CAN'T?

Yujia says NOT REALLY.
BECAUSE I THINK THERE WAS
ANOTHER CONCERN FOR THEM IS HOW
EXPENSIVE IT IS TO RAISE A KID.
BECAUSE IN THE 1990s, THERE
WERE ALREADY A LOT OF ECONOMIC
GROWTH IN CHINA WITH
REORGANIZATION AND EVERYTHING.
RAISING A KID HAS BECOME MORE
EXPENSIVE.

Steve says CAN I ASK YOU A
HORRIBLE QUESTION?
THIS IS A REALLY HORRIBLE
QUESTION.
WE KNOW THAT MANY CHINESE
PARENTS FAVOURED HAVING BOYS.
DID YOUR PARENTS
EVER INDICATE TO YOU A
PREFERENCE, THAT THEY WISHED YOU
WERE A BOY OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT?

Yujia says NOT MY PARENTS.
LIKE, MY MOM ACTUALLY PREFERRED
TO HAVE A GIRL BECAUSE SHE JUST
LOVES GIRLS.
BUT I DID HEAR COMMENTS HERE AND
THERE, ESPECIALLY FROM
GRANDPARENTS, THAT THEY WOULD
ASPIRE TO HAVE A GRANDSON TO
CARRY THE FAMILY LINE, AND
THAT'S JUST SORT OF LIKE A...
NOT THAT IT'S POPULAR BUT COMMON
KIND OF THINKING.

Steve says DID YOU HEAR THAT
FROM YOUR GRANDPARENTS?

Yujia says NO.

Steve says BUT YOU HEARD THAT
THEY FELT THAT WAY?

Yujia says WELL, A LITTLE OF IT.

Steve says HOW DO YOU FEEL
ABOUT THAT?

Yujia says I DISAGREE WITH THEM, FOR
SURE.
BUT I ALSO UNDERSTANDS WHERE IT
COMES FROM, BECAUSE IT'S REALLY
THEIR WAY OF THINKING IS NOT
VERY MUCH ANCHORED IN OUR TIME.

Steve says AMEN.
OKAY.
LET'S BRING THIS UP.
THIS IS FROM THE COUNCIL OF
FOREIGN RELATIONS. GO AHEAD,
SHELDON, LET'S BRING THIS UP...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "A demographic time bomb." The quote reads "As a result of almost four decades of its one-child policy and increases in average life expectancy, China is aging faster than any other country in the world. This has led to a smaller labor force and more dependents; and in 2025, the overall population will begin to decline. The fertility rate still hovers around 1.6, lower than the U.S. rate of 1.87. Even Brazil, which has a similar GDP per capita to China, has a rate of 1.75. Furthermore, Chinese parents have traditionally preferred boys over girls, leading to a massive gender imbalance. In 2017, men outnumbered women by 33 million, and the male to female birth ratio was 115 boys for every 100 girls, one of the most skewed in the world."
Quoted from Maylin Meisenheimer, Council on Foreign Relations. July 5, 2018.

Steve says LET US NOW LOOK AT
SOME CHARTS AS WE CONTINUE TO
LOOK AT CHINA'S FERTILITY RATE
AND HOW IT COMPARES TO THE
GLOBAL AVERAGE AND DOESN'T... I
MEAN, BOY.

A line chart titled "Fertility rates. Total births per woman between 1960 and 2016" pops up. It shows that the rates have gone down sharply worldwide from 5 to just over 2, while in Chine they have gone down from over 6 to just above 1.

Steve continues DOESN'T THAT SAY EVERYTHING THERE?
THOSE TWO SQUIGGLY LINES, THE
CHINESE ARE JUST NOT REPLACING
THEMSELVES AS SOME OTHER
COUNTRIES IN THIS WORLD ARE, AND
LET'S TALK ABOUT THE GENDER
IMBALANCE AND THE IMPLICATIONS
OF THAT.
LYNETTE, MAYBE YOU CAN HELP US
OUT WITH THAT?
THERE ARE SO MANY MORE CHINESE
BOYS COMPARED TO CHINESE GIRLS.
PLAY THAT FORWARD.
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THAT?

The caption changes to "Population control and other side effects."
Then, it changes again to "Only me generation. Tonight 9 PM. Also streaming at tvo.org/ChinaHereAndNow"

Lynette says WELL, THE
IMPLICATIONS ARE MANY-FOLD.
ONE IS THAT YOU HAVE A LOT OF
MEN, PARTICULARLY THOSE POORER
ONES IN RURAL AREAS, CAN'T FIND
A WIFE.
TO TAKE IT TO THE MOST EXTREME
EXAMPLE, WE KNOW THAT IN
POLYGAMY, POWERFUL MEN CAN HAVE
MANY WIVES, LEAVING THE POOR MEN
HAVING DIFFICULTY FINDING
BRIDES.
WE TEND TO SEE A LOT OF
VIOLENCE.
THAT IS NOT HAPPENING TO CHINA,
NOT TO THAT EXTENT.
BUT IF WE SEE THESE TRENDS
CONTINUING, I THINK WE ARE GOING
TO SEE A SOCIETY THAT IS
INCREASINGLY UNSTABLE BECAUSE OF
THAT... BECAUSE OF THAT REASON.

Steve says YUJIA, ON THE OTHER
HAND, YOUNG WOMEN CAN AFFORD TO
BE VERY, VERY PICKY IN CHOOSING
A HUSBAND.
ISN'T THAT TRUE?

Yujia says YES.
I THINK SO.

Steve says IS THAT A GOOD
THING?

Yujia says I THINK SO, YEAH.
I DEFINITELY SEE A LOT OF
INCREASING GENDER EQUALITY THESE
YEARS AND A LOT OF WOMEN, THEY
CAN HAVE THE CHOICE TO MARRY OR
NOT.
SO A LOT OF TIMES IT'S UP TO
THEM.

Steve says HOW MANY YEARS DID
YOU LIVE IN CHINA?

Yujia says IT WAS ABOUT 20 YEARS.

Steve says 20 YEARS.
DID YOU EVER HEAR CONVERSATIONS
AMONG YOUNG MEN ABOUT HOW
UNHAPPY THEY WERE BECAUSE OF
THIS GENDER IMBALANCE?

Yujia says THERE WERE, LIKE, DEFINITELY
STEPBACKS ON GENDER EQUALITY AND
I HEARD ABOUT THEM, COMPLAINING
ESPECIALLY ABOUT HOW EXPENSIVE
TO MARRY A WOMAN IN CHINA NOW.

Steve says WELL, ALSO TOO MANY
GUYS COMPETING FOR TOO FEW GIRLS.
I MEAN, THAT IS THE CASE.

Yujia says IN URBAN AREAS, ESPECIALLY
MEGA CITIES LIKE BEIJING OR
SHANGHAI, ACTUALLY IF YOU LOOK
AT THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF THE CITY,
THERE ARE MORE YOUNG WOMEN THAN YOUNG MEN.

Steve says WE'RE GOING TO PUT A
CHART UP NOW... LEAVE IT UP FOR
A BIT, SHELDON.
WE'RE GOING TO NEED TIME TO GO
THROUGH THIS.

A chart appears with the title "China's population pyramids."
It shows the Chinese population pyramid in 1960, in 2015 and the projected pyramid for 2060.

Steve says HERE IS CHINA'S POPULATION
PYRAMIDS AS THEY CALL THEM OVER
THE YEARS.
WE CAN SEE IN 1960, ALMOST 60
YEARS AGO, OBVIOUSLY THE NUMBER
OF OLDER PEOPLE IN CHINA WAS
VERY SMALL, AND THE PYRAMID THEN
GOES OUT WITH A LARGER BASE AS
THE POPULATION GETS YOUNGER.
THAT IS AN INDICATION OF WHAT
DEMOGRAPHERS WOULD CALL A
HEALTHIER SOCIETY.
IN 2015, YOU CAN SEE, AS A
RESULT OF THE ONE-CHILD POLICY,
THERE IS A BULGE IN THE MIDDLE.
YOU'RE GETTING MORE OLDER
PEOPLE, FEWER YOUNGER PEOPLE.
AND STILL NOT THAT MANY BIRTHS
OBVIOUSLY WITH THE ONE-CHILD
POLICY.
LET US NOW PROJECT TO THE YEAR
2060.
WE'RE IN THE THIRD COLUMN NOW,
AND YOU CAN SEE THE BULGE AT THE
TOP.
THERE ARE A LOT OF OLDER PEOPLE
IN CHINA, A LOT OF SENIOR
CITIZENS AND NOT VERY MANY
YOUNGER PEOPLE WHO WILL BE
LIVING IN SOCIETY TO DO THE WORK
AND EARN THE MONEY TO AFFORD THE
PENSIONS FOR THE OLDER PEOPLE
AND SO ON.
AGAIN, LYNETTE, THE ECONOMIC
IMPLICATIONS OF THAT REVERSE
PYRAMID IN THE THIRD COLUMN...
WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY ARE?

The caption changes to "Lynette Ong, @onglynette."

Lynette says WELL, AGING
POPULATION, A SHRINKING LABOUR
FORCE WILL HAVE A NEGATIVE
IMPACT ON FUTURE ECONOMIC
GROWTH.
WE ONLY NEED TO LOOK AT JAPAN,
WHICH HAS BEEN SUFFERING FROM A
DECLINE IN ECONOMIC GROWTH IN
THE LAST TWO DECADES, AND ONE OF
THE CONTRIBUTING FACTORS IS
AGING POPULATION.
AND PEOPLE ALSO COMPARE CHINA
WITH INDIA, SAYING THAT INDIA
WILL OVERTAKE CHINA'S GROWTH
RATE IN THE VERY NEAR FUTURE.
PART OF THE REASON IS POPULATION
BASE IS VERY YOUNG AND IS STILL
RAPIDLY GROWING, AND YOU NEED,
YOU KNOW, A BIG WORKING
POPULATION, A WORK FORCE TO
POWER YOUR ECONOMY.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Steve says YUJIA, I MEAN ONE OF
THE REASONS WE'RE HAVING THIS
CONVERSATION IS THAT LATER
TONIGHT ON TVO THERE'S GOING TO
BE A DOCUMENTARY ALL ABOUT THIS
PHENOMENON OF THE ONE-CHILD
POLICY.
AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT
EMERGES FROM THE DOCUMENTARY IS
THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF ONLY
CHILDREN IN CHINA WHO ARE GOING
TO BE SOLELY ON THEIR OWN
RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR AGING
PARENTS AS THEY GET OLDER, AND
SOME OF THEM IN THE DOCUMENTARY
ARE NOT TOO HAPPY ABOUT THAT.
THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE NO HELP
TAKING CARE OF AGING PARENTS.
HOW OLD ARE YOUR PARENTS?

Yujia says THEY'RE AROUND 50.

Steve says IN THEIR 50s.
HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THE
RESPONSIBILITY THAT WILL FALL ON
YOU ONCE THEY GET INTO THEIR
70s AND 80s AND, GOD
WILLING, INTO THEIR 90s,
BECAUSE YOU'RE ALL THEY'VE GOT,
RIGHT?

Yujia says MM-HMM.
I CAN DEFINITELY... I'LL
DEFINITELY SEE IT AS PART OF MY
RESPONSIBILITY.
I'LL TAKE ON THAT RESPONSIBILITY
AT THE TIME IT'S NEEDED, AT THE
TIME IT'S REQUIRED.

Steve says DOES THAT MEAN
YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO MOVE
BACK TO CHINA?
BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY YOU'RE HERE NOW.

Yujia says I HAVEN'T REALLY HAD THIS
CONVERSATION WITH MY PARENTS,
BUT I THINK WHAT THEY SAID TO ME
IS THEY WOULD LIKE TO BE MORE
INDEPENDENT WHEN THEY'RE OLD.
BUT I KNOW THERE ARE TIMES WHEN
THEY WILL NEED ME.
I WILL BE THERE FOR THEM.
BUT WHERE I LIVE AND THE FUTURE
REALLY IS GOING TO BE DECIDED BY
MY CAREER.

Steve says RIGHT.
IN THE WEST, OBVIOUSLY, MANY
OLDER ADULTS END UP LEAVING
THEIR HOMES AND THEY GO LIVE IN
ASSISTED LIVING FACILITIES OR
SENIORS RESIDENCES OR NURSING
HOMES, THAT KIND OF THING.
CAN YOU SEE THAT HAPPENING IN
CHINA?
BECAUSE THAT TRADITIONALLY IS
NOT THE WAY THINGS HAPPEN IN
CHINA.

Yujia says NO.
TRADITIONALLY USUALLY PARENTS
ARE TAKEN CARE OF BY THEIR
CHILDREN.
BUT BY NOW YOU CAN SEE,
ESPECIALLY IN THE PRIVATE
SECTOR, THAT A GROWING BUSINESS
IS BASED ON NURSING HOMES AND
ALSO... IT'S REALLY BECAUSE IN
THE PUBLIC SECTOR, THE STATE
DOESN'T REALLY HAVE COHERENT AND
EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT POLICY
THAT REALLY HELPS THE SITUATION.

Steve says LYNETTE, HERE'S THE
BIGGER QUESTION, WHICH IS: DO
YOU THINK CHINA COULD HAVE HAD
THE REMARKABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH
AND TRANSFORMATION OF ITS
SOCIETY OVER THE LAST 40 YEARS
HAD THE ONE-CHILD POLICY NOT
HAPPENED?

Lynette says YES.

Steve says THE ECONOMIC GROWTH
STILL COULD HAVE HAPPENED?

Lynette says YES.
YES, I THINK SO.

Steve says SO ARE YOU SAYING
THIS POLICY WAS UNNECESSARY?

Lynette says I THINK... I WOULD AGREE WITH MOST OF MY FELLOW SCHOLARS THAT
THIS POLICY WAS UNNECESSARY.
THE FEAR OF UNCHECKED POPULATION
GROWTH WAS UNNECESSARY BECAUSE
WE KNOW THAT WITH INCREASED
INCOME LEVEL, CHANGING VALUES,
FERTILITY RATES ARE GOING TO
DROP.
PEOPLE'S LIVES ARE CHANGING,
CHANGING OCCUPATION, THEY'RE
GOING TO HAVE FEWER CHILDREN
ANYWAY.
AND WITH THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF
TWO-CHILD POLICIES, THAT HAS
ACTUALLY NOT BEEN THAT
SUCCESSFUL.
THERE HAS BEEN SOME UPTAKE.
BUT A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE ALSO
RESISTING IT BECAUSE OF DEEPLY
SOCIALLY HELD BELIEFS THAT ONE
CHILD IS SUFFICIENT.
AND CHINA IS A SOCIETY WITH VERY
HIGH COST OF LIVING.
TWO CHILDREN ARE VERY EXPENSIVE.
SO IT'S VERY DIFFICULT I THINK
TO CHANGE PEOPLE'S UNDERLYING
BELIEFS.

Steve says I KNOW OBVIOUSLY FOR
YOU, YUJIA, IT'S THE ONLY LIFE
YOU KNOW.
DO YOU OPPOSE THE POLICY?

Lynette says I OPPOSE IT NUMBER ONE
BECAUSE I DON'T THINK IT HAS ANY
ECONOMIC REASON.
AND SECONDLY I THINK IT IS A
GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE BECAUSE
OF VIOLENCE, BECAUSE OF HOW IT
IS IMPLEMENTED, IT IS REALLY...
IT IS REALLY A STATE POLICY INTO
PEOPLE'S HOME, AN INVASION OF
PEOPLE'S PRIVACY, A FORM OF
POPULATION ENGINEERING, THE
STATE TELLING PEOPLE WHAT TO DO
WITH THEIR LIVES, HOW MANY KIDS
THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO HAVE, AND
OFTEN UNDER COERCION.

Steve says SO IN YOUR VIEW, ALL
OF THIS MISERY... THERE WAS SO
MUCH MISERY ASSOCIATED WITH THIS
POLICY, NEED NOT HAVE HAPPENED,
IN YOUR VIEW?

Lynette says TO A GREAT EXTENT, NO, NO.

Steve says LET'S READ THIS FROM
THE NEW YORK TIMES...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "China and its ethnic minorities." The quote reads "Even as officials urge college-educated, Han Chinese women to marry and get pregnant, they are discouraging, sometimes through coercion, ethnic minorities with high birthrates -particularly Uighurs in the northwestern region of Xinjiang- from having more children. Last summer, government officials invoked 'ethnic equality' to announce the end of a longstanding exception that had allowed Uighurs and other groups to have one more child than families from the Han majority."
Quoted from Leta Hong Fincher, The New York Times. February 20, 2018.

Steve says PICK UP ON THAT.
WHY DO YOU THINK THEY'VE
REVERSED THEMSELVES?

Lynette says I THINK THAT
IS PART OF THE REASON WHY CHINA
HAS BEEN IMPOSING VERY STRICT
REPRESSION CONTROL IN XIJIANG
BECAUSE OF FEAR OF TERRORISM.
THIS IS AN ERRONEOUS HELD BELIEF
THAT ISLAM AND MUSLIMS ARE
EQUIVALENT OF TERRORISTS.
THERE ARE MANY, MANY REASONS
BEHIND IT, BUT IT'S A WRONGLY
HELD BELIEF OF EQUATING ISLAM
AND MUSLIMS WITH TERRORISM.
SO THEY WANT TO CONVERT PEOPLE
WITH THOSE SORTS OF BELIEFS AND
FROM THAT ETHNIC ORIGIN INTO
NOTHING.
SO PEOPLE ARE FORCED TO EAT
DURING RAMADAN.
PEOPLE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO WEAR
HEAD SCARVES, WHICH IS A
TRADITIONAL CULTURAL VALUE.
AND LIMITING THE NUMBER OF
CHILDREN THAT THEY COULD HAVE IS
JUST PART OF THESE POLICIES,
REVERSING THE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
GIVEN TO ETHNIC MINORITIES THAT
WAS IN PLACE FOR MANY, MANY YEARS.

Steve says I MENTIONED JUST A
FEW MINUTES AGO THAT WE'RE GOING
TO BE PLAYING THIS DOCUMENTARY
"ONLY ME GENERATION," IT'S
COMING UP IN JUST A FEW MINUTES'
TIME.
LET'S GIVE PEOPLE A SNEAK
PREVIEW OF WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO
SAY, OKAY?
SHELDON, GO.

A clip from the documentary plays.
A caption reads "Only me generation."

In the clip, a young couple sits on a couch in a room.

An unseen interviewer says
Is it normal for the bride's parents to buy a car?

The woman says
Groom's parents buy the apartment and the bride's parents buy a car. It is Tianjin's custom.
If the bride's parents are not wealthy, they should at least buy all the furniture and whiteware.

The interviewer says What price scale should the car be?

The woman says Doesn't matter, if you can afford it, BMW is welcome.

She laughs, then adds
If not, a cheaper car is also acceptable.
I wanted a 2 litre car but it costs too much for petrol. So I suggested that my mum should pay if she wanted a ride.

The couple laughs.

The clip ends.

Steve says ONE OF THE
INTERESTING THINGS IN THIS
DOCUMENTARY IS TO SEE HOW
MATERIALISTIC MANY YOUNG CHINESE
ARE THESE DAYS, WHICH IS VERY
DIFFERENT FROM WHAT THEIR
GRANDPARENTS WOULD HAVE
EXPERIENCED.
BUT THERE'S AN EXPRESSION IN
THIS DOCUMENTARY, YUJIA: A BOY
IS A CONSTRUCTION BANK.
A GIRL IS AN INVESTMENT BANK.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

The caption changes to "Little emperors."

Yujia says SO IT REALLY IS
A REAL INTERESTING... AN
INTERESTING TERM ON WHAT'S GOING
ON IN THE MARRIAGE MARKET RIGHT
NOW IN CHINA, BECAUSE IN URBAN
AREAS, A LOT OF TIMES WHEN A
COUPLE IS GETTING MARRIED, THE
GUY IS EXPECTED TO HAVE AN
APARTMENT OR HOUSE AND HE'S
BASICALLY GOING TO PROVIDE FOR
THEIR LIFE, LIVING AFTER
MARRIAGE.
BUT THE GIRL... THE EXPECTATION
DOESN'T REALLY COME FOR THE
GIRL.
THE GIRL'S FAMILY, IN MY
IMPRESSION, USUALLY WOULD PAY
FOR THE WEDDING, AND MAYBE
THEY'LL PAY FOR SOME FURNITURE
IN THE HOUSE.
BUT APART FROM THAT, THE
ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL
CONSTRAINT ON THE GIRL IS
USUALLY LESS WHEN IT COMES TO
MARRIAGE.

Steve says THE NICKNAME FOR
CHINESE KIDS IS LITTLE EMPERORS,
ISN'T IT?
HAVE YOU HEARD THAT?
ARE YOU A LITTLE EMPEROR?

Yujia says NOT THAT MUCH.

Steve says BACK IN THE DAY?
WHY DID THEY CALL THEM LITTLE
EMPERORS?

Yujia says BECAUSE AT THE EARLY STAGE OF
THE POLICY, PEOPLE ARE NOT
REALLY FAMILIAR WITH THIS KIND
OF FAMILY STRUCTURE, AND ALSO
YOU WOULD SEE A LOT OF TIMES
WHEN PARENTS ONLY HAVE ONE
CHILDREN, THEY REALLY INVEST
EVERYTHING IN THE KID.
SO A LOT OF TIMES THE CHILDREN
ARE SPOILED.
BUT I THINK WHEN IT COMES TO MY
CASE, WHEN I WAS BORN, THE
ONE-CHILD POLICY, LIKE TWO
PARENTS AND ONE CHILD STRUCTURE
HAS BEEN NORMALIZED.
SO I'M NOT... PERSONALLY, IN MY
EXPERIENCE, I'M NOT REALLY
FAMILIAR WITH THE TERM.

Steve says WE'VE GOT A MINUTE
LEFT.
AGAIN, I'M GOING TO ASK YOU A
QUESTION I HAVE NO BUSINESS
ASKING, BUT I'M GOING TO ANYWAY,
GIVEN THE SUBJECT OF THE
CONVERSATION.
DO YOU WANT TO HAVE KIDS SOME DAY?

Yujia says YEAH, I THINK SO.

Steve says HOW MANY?

Yujia says YEAH, MAYBE TWO.

Steve says YOU WOULD LIKE TO
HAVE MORE THAN ONE?

Yujia says YEAH.

Steve says ISN'T THAT
INTERESTING?

Yujia says YEAH, BECAUSE I THINK IT'S
PRECISELY BECAUSE I GREW UP
ALONE AND I WANT TO SEE WHAT
IT'S LIKE WHEN MY KID HAS A
SIBLING.
I WONDER WHETHER THE DYNAMICS
WOULD BE DIFFERENT AT HOME.

The caption changes to "Producer: Sandra Gionas, @sandragionas."

Steve says THAT IS A VERY
INTERESTING ANSWER.
YUJIA SHI I WANT TO THANK YOU
FOR COMING IN AND ANSWERING MY
IMPERTINENT QUESTIONS SO
HONESTLY. WE APPRECIATE IT.
LYNETTE ONG, IT'S GREAT TO SEE
YOU AGAIN. THANK YOU FOR YOUR
VISIT TONIGHT AND DO COME AGAIN.
THANKS TO YOU BOTH.

Both guests say THANK YOU.

Watch: China's Only Children