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A Modest Proposal: The One-Child Policy in China

June 1, 2010 | NeW Staff

The one-child policy in China has always disturbed me, and I am glad to see some silent protesting among its citizens.  In this article, Fu Yang talks about his seven daughters and the lengths he has gone through in order to protect them from the Chinese government.

Fu said:

“There were some difficult times,” Mr Fu conceded. “We were chased around and we had to live like beggars. But I never thought about doing otherwise. I’m aware that many people do not want their daughters, but we have a decent respect for life.”


That respect for life should carry over into the government. After all, one of the first duties of a government according to most social contract philosophers and law makers is to provide and protect its citizens’ lives. The Chinese government is clearly not doing this by enforcing the one-child policy.

Most know that the one-child policy is to control the population in China, but the policy that began in 1978 is having some unintended consequences. The main one is that the ratio of males and females is grossly unbalanced. This is causing grave problems for the young generation of males who want to marry, but cannot find a partner due to the limited number of women their age.

Additionally, many women are being forced into having abortions, so they do not have more than one child. Something is undoubtedly wrong with the effects of the one-child policy.

In conclusion, population control by limiting the rights of life and the citizen’s lives has never been a just action – especially not by establishing a one-child policy. It reminds me of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, where he points out the problems of population (among other things) in 18th century Ireland. This satirical work makes a government-like proposal that suggests the Irish eat its children and sells them as export as the best and most logical way to take care of Ireland’s problems. Obviously, Swift is in part exposing the absurdity of population control and the inherent injustice of a government trying to interfere in the lives of its people.

Perhaps the Chinese government ought to take a look at the unintended consequences of its policy as well as the evident injustice of population control. Forced abortions and interfering with citizens’ happiness is not upholding the government’s social contract. It’s people like Mr. Fu who are brave enough to silently protest against it and in favor of life. I hope there are more like Mr. Fu in China.

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