Out of Control
Malcolm Potts (2006) labeled the One-Child Policy as painful for a generation, but “oneof the most important social policies ever implemented.” From a removed perspective, he isright. China’s population, although still unwieldy, is on a trajectory to become manageable in thefuture. The nation’s economy is thriving, and China is quickly becoming a world power in manyrespects. However, the One-Child Policy has affected its people in a variety of manners notrepresented in that wide-scoped national picture. Anthropologists Faye Ginsberg and RaynaRapp point out that reproduction is not simply a biological issue. It is fundamental to society andtied closely to politics (Ginsberg & Rapp, 1995). How has living with the policy affectedChina’s families, culture, and microeconomy now and for the future? Because the One-ChildPolicy and long-standing cultural ways of life do not often align, what conflicts have arisen andhow are both the people and the government utilizing biotechnology to address these issues?Spanning all these topics, it is impossible to ignore the vast differences between urban and rurallife in China and how these cultural and social variations interact differently with the imposed policy. Ultimately, Potts may be correct is labeling the One-Child Policy as triumphantlyimportant, but the wide-ranging effect of the policy appear to create a much more ambiguousstamp upon Chinese society.
China’s population under Mao Zedong’s communist regime during the 1950s, 60s, and70s grew at an increasingly rapid pace. Mao, interested primarily in total production output for launching China into world power status, encouraged population growth (Potts, 2006). Morehands meant more workers for the state machine of national production. Centuries-old traditionsof large farming families thrived, and expanding family lineages continued effortlessly.2