Face Off: Should China's one-child policy continue to be enforced?

Each week, our two teenagers will debate a hot topic. This week ...


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Lucinda Kam Wing-lam, 16, Sacred Heart Canossian College (Affirmative)

China's one-child policy was enforced in 1979 because of fears that unchecked population growth would cause social and economic chaos in the country. Even more than 30 years later, I firmly believe the authorities did the right thing, and the policy should continue to be enforced. Why? Here are my reasons:

Firstly, the policy has helped reduce poverty. China has embarked on a path of rapid modernisation over the past 30 years. Despite significant economic growth and technological development during this period, millions of people living in remote areas still have not been able to enjoy the fruits of their country's success.

Under the one-child policy, the mainland government can provide better social welfare services to the public. Therefore, if the people are happy, there is less chance of social unrest. Also, there will be more funds to start development projects in rural areas and raise people's living standards.

Secondly, let's look at how the one-child policy has had a positive effect on education. With a relatively smaller population, the mainland's literacy rate has improved and more children are able to go to school nowadays. A stable birth rate has also allowed Beijing to allocate more resources to education. A well-educated population is the key to a nation's stability and prosperity.

Thirdly, China's one-child policy has helped Beijing provide satisfactory healthcare for the people. With a dense population, there is always the danger of a pandemic spreading among people. Other than the 2002 Sars outbreak, which killed a few hundred people, I can't think of a serious disease that has endangered public health on the mainland.

In the circumstances, I believe the one-child policy should continue to be enforced.

Tara Lee Bo-yi, 17, Diocesan Girls' School (Negative)

The one-child policy was first implemented as a temporary measure to help ease social, economic and environmental problems caused by overpopulation. But the policy is still in force today, and this has led to many negative side-effects.

It has worsened the problems caused by China's ageing population.

Today, a child has to look after their two parents and four grandparents. This is too heavy a burden for most individuals. According to The Guardian, by 2030 there will be only two workers for each person aged 60-plus, compared to six in 2000. When older people retire - and more are living longer these days because of lifestyle and medical advancements - a smaller number of taxpayers will have to support them.

Another issue is the gender imbalance. Traditionally sons provide financial support for their elderly parents and continue the family line. Therefore, some Chinese couples opt for an abortion if they know they are going to have a girl. This is immoral and can have serious consequences.

According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, by 2020, more than 24 million Chinese men of marrying age may be without wives, possibly leading to increased prostitution and sexual crimes.

Although the policy has been recently altered so that some single-child parents can have two children, China's birth rate may fall naturally anyway. So this makes the one-child policy unnecessary. Therefore, to improve the mainland's social structure and to reduce abortions, the one-child policy should be abandoned.