My parents were born before the Communist Party took over in China. They both came from big families – my mother had three brothers and three sisters, and my father, one brother and four sisters. For my parents’ generation, it was common for a family to have five to seven children. At that time, China did not have an overpopulation problem. Like the rest of the world, the Chinese could freely have as many children as they wanted.
In 1949, when the Communist regime started, the Chinese population was around 450 million. I was born in the mid-1960s. When I went to elementary school, I found that most of my classmates had one to three siblings. In my school, with an enrolment of more than 600, fewer than five students came from one-child families. As children, we felt that it was normal to have many siblings, but it was odd to be a single child.
In middle school, we began to hear news from teachers, parents, and government-controlled media that China had more than one billion people and every couple should only have one child. We never questioned why our next generation should have no siblings. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even know we should have the right to ask questions. From very young, our brain was trained to mimic and do whatever the authorities asked us to do.
My generation grew up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Our textbooks about history and tradition were completely rewritten by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The only way for us children to receive information other than the CCP propaganda was overhearing adults’ gossip. In my childhood, we lived in an “open” neighborhood – about 100 people using one outhouse restroom (one for men, one for women), and about 50 people sharing one faucet station to get running water. Adults were often whispering while waiting to use the restroom or get tap water.
Honestly, I don’t remember any detail of those adults’ gossips, but I do have some recollection of my neighbor “aunts” (a respectful way for young people to refer to and address any middle-aged woman) talking about how their pregnant relatives were hiding or running away from their hometowns to avoid being caught. The most frequent words I overheard were “Duan zi jue sun,” an idiom meaning not having a son or a grandson. In China, people often use this idiom to curse someone who does something bad, wicked. The Chinese tradition is that married women don’t change their family name to their husbands’. Children inherit their father’s family name, and if a family doesn’t have a son, there will be no heir to continue that family’s name. Although many people share same last names, they have no blood relationship.
In 1979, the CCP introduced a policy that limited families in towns and cities to having just one child. The authorities said that the one-child policy aimed to curb China’s population growth rate. In 1985, when I was a senior at high school, I witnessed my mother’s sister almost dying of a forced sterilization.
Beginning in 1980s, the campaign against “illegal pregnancies” went into overdrive
and sterilization was enforced on married couples in some regions. Like forced abortion, forced sterilization was not a ‘choice’ for those women. One morning in June, the police drove a big truck into my aunt’s village and forced all married women to jump on the truck. Many of them were middle-aged, had already had children, and were not even pregnant. The police told them that they would undergo a medical checkup at the hospital, but once there, they all were forcedly sterilized.
My aunt was a victim of this policy. After the sterilization operation, her womb kept bleeding. The doctors in that local hospital panicked and asked her husband and the other two Communist Party members from that village to transfer her overnight to a hospital in Beijing. My aunt was dying when she was sent to Beijing for emergency care. Her life was saved after an eight-hour surgery in Beijing, but she lost her ability to perform physical work permanently.
“It has proved the most effective population control measure so far adopted.” This is how the BBC describes the CCP one-child policy. Ironically, after nearly four decades barbarously killing millions of babies, the CCP found that the country would be short of young, healthy bodies to work. In 2016, the authorities replaced the one-child policy with a two-child limit, and in 2020, after census data showed a steep decline in birth rates, the Chinese government announced that it would allow couples to have up to three children.
As human beings, we are endowed with the right to have families and raise children, as many as we want. It’s just as simple as that, but in China, the government controls when and how many children we can have. When a government imposes a rule on how many children we may have, we lose our most fundamental human right.
“China’s one-child policy was crafted by military scientists, who believed any regrettable side effects could be swiftly mitigated and women’s fertility rates easily adjusted.” ― Mei Fong, One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment.
With its inhumane birth-control policies, the CCP has turned China into a country of slaves!