China’s Two Baby Policy is announced through new Piglet Stamps but Pooh is banned.
So fragile is Xi- Jinping and so afraid of the cartoon character Winnie the Pooh, that he has banned the new Disney film, Christopher Robin. Who would have thought that ‘a bear of very little brain’ could pose such a threat to the leader of the world’s second biggest economy?
How odd then, that new national stamps in China have just been issued, with a family of three piglets, to celebrate 2019, the Year of the Pig.
But nothing from the Chinese government is what it seems. All economic figures are wildly distorted, human rights abuses are hidden and changes in government policy are communicated in riddles like this one. In 2015 the long standing rule of ‘one child per couple only’ was relaxed and the change was announced to the Chinese public by the issuing of a new stamp to celebrate the Year of the Monkey (2016) featuring two cute baby monkeys.
If you wonder why the Chinese government can’t just tell its people about new policies, rather than publish stamps with hidden messages, the answer is ‘CONTROL’. Everything is controlled and everything is stage managed.
But does it work?
No. China says its policy of one child only, introduced in 1979, prevented 400 million births. Stuart Gietel-Basten, associate professor in social policy at Oxford University disagrees. He points out that most of the decrease in China’s fertility rate happened earlier in the 1970s before the new policy was introduced. It dropped from 5.8 children per woman in 1970 to 2.7 in 1978.
Cai Yong of the University of North Carolina, has also suggested the one-child policy may have caused anxiety, prompting people to have children younger, actually increasing the likelihood of having a second child.
At the same time, there were 33 million more men than women in China in 2017, because the one child policy historically had led to a disastrous infanticide – killing female babies in order to have a son, so guess what – there are fewer women of child bearing age to have all the extra babies that the government has suddenly decided it wants to encourage!
Nor has changing to a two child policy since 2016 been successful. Only 1 million more babies were born in China 2016 than in 2015 – because whatever the government says you can do, the economy (high living costs and child care) says otherwise.
What’s the moral here? Well, it’s that oppressive regimes can only control their peoples so far. Hundreds of millions of Chinese will find a way to see Christopher Robin, the new Disney Winnie the Pooh film and hundreds of millions of them didn’t obey the one baby rule and won’t obey the two baby policy either.
The Chinese government (like all governments) might benefit from the advice of Alcoholics Anonymous Serenity Prayer:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
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