Polytechnic School: Pulitzer Prize Winner Mei Fong Discusses China’s One-child Policy
Earlier this month, the Global Initiatives Program hosted an evening with Mei Fong, recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for journalism, who spoke to the Poly community about China’s controversial one-child policy. She offered a riveting and insightful examination of the policy’s many ramifications and left many in the audience mindful of some of the great challenges facing China in the decades to come.
While in Beijing to cover the 2008 Olympics for the Wall Street Journal, Fong followed many Chinese workers who rushed back to the Sichuan area after the great earthquake there. She came to learn of hundreds of parents who lost their one child in the quake. She went on to address the origins of the one-child policy, which was devised not by sociologists but rather by rocket scientists who based their proposal on a theoretical model put forth by Danish mathematicians.
Fong discussed at the potential fraud in adoption cases of Chinese babies, the emergence of the Little Emperor complex (one child doted upon by his or her parents and grandparents), and the concerns about China’s rising cases of elder neglect. In addition, the gender imbalance that exists today in China has opened the door for more women to be educated but also led to men needing to find brides, which has increased dowrys for Chinese women, as well as resulted in an increase in female trafficking from neighboring nations. Her work points out how this one-child policy has impacted the world, identified the fragility of culture, and reiterated how the urge to have a child is very personal and thus most challenging when in conflict with a government policy.
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