Face Off: Was China right to abandon the one-child policy?

Compiled by Ben Pang

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

Compiled by Ben Pang |

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Anson Chan, 16, Carmel Secondary School 

Beijing introduced the one-child policy more than 30 years ago to keep the country's birth rate under control. It was successful for a long time, but now we are seeing some unwanted side-effects.

I think this policy should be abolished because of uncertainty over the mainland's future development.

Most parents tend to spoil their only child. These children are very selfish, which is why the media calls them "little emperors". Having no siblings, and spoiled by their parents, they have poor communication skills and cannot get along with others. As a result, they have a big problem when they enter the work force.

Besides its impact on personal development, the one-child policy has led to an ageing population, with one child having to take care of their parents and even grandparents. They cannot handle such a big responsibility.

What's more, people are living longer today, thanks to the mainland's economic progress. This means the ageing problem will only get worse, putting huge pressure on society and the government. In the end, the elderly will be left all alone - neither their children nor the government will be able to help them.

The one-child policy has also brought about gender imbalance. With the help of advanced technology, parents can now know the sex of their baby before the child is born. So some parents choose to have an abortion if they are going to have a girl. This is because, historically, Chinese people have valued boys more than girls. With more men than women in the country, males can have difficulty finding a wife. This also lowers the country's birth rate.

The disadvantages of the one-child policy outweigh its benefits. So it should be abandoned.

Patricia Abundo, 18, Auckland University of Technology  

In 1979, the central government implemented the one-child policy to control the country's population. I believe it should not be abolished.

It has been said that the policy has created gender imbalance and inequality on the mainland. We should blame long-standing traditions, not the one-child policy, for such a situation. Some cultures teach that boys should be powerful, strong and in control, while girls should be timid, shy and obedient. This mentality needs to change.

Some may also say the one-child policy has led to an ageing population, with the government having to spend a lot of money on healthcare. An article in the British newspaper, The Guardian, says that couples in wealthier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai can afford more children. But larger families in less developed areas may require increased welfare support from the government. In the long term, these expenses are likely to add up to more than the cost of healthcare for the elderly.

Others claim that having siblings means shared responsibility for parents and family. But, as I said above, this only works in richer cities. What about the poorer provinces?

How can children grow up to be successful and care for their families if they are not looked after properly from a young age? Having one child per family means he or she can receive more support for their all-round development.

Today, many women focus on developing their careers rather than having babies. Changing the policy now might seem a little too late, especially for those who have decided to start a family later or not have children at all.