Well hello again, or nǐ hǎo I must say. I've been here in Beijing for over a week now and it has been already an experience worthwhile. Starting at Schiphol:
While waiting to board, I mindlessly looked around and then suddenly it struck me: I belonged to the minority. I had become one of the few foreigners that would enter the plane. I think, besides me there were perhaps 10 other not Chinese look-a-likes. And as I could have guessed, I sat in the in the middle of two Chinese people; a middle aged man reading a Chinese newspaper (which looked more like a bunch of stripes to me) on my left and a Chinese girl around my age looking outside of the window on my right.
A few horrifying minutes of turbulence gave rise to a conversation with the Chinese girl. She told me, she had done her masters in Manchester and was now returning after one and a half year to her home-town Beijing to look for a job. To keep the conversation rolling I asked her some questions of which one were: 'do you have any brothers or sisters'? She said: 'no I'm only child, in China you have a one-child policy'. Of course, I knew that..
But what is actually the underlying reason for this so called family planning policy? It was due to Mao Zedong 's strong belief that population growth empowers the country, that had led to an extreme increase of citizens from 540 million in 1949 to 940 million in 1976. The government became convinced that the overpopulation were the cause of China's social, economic and environmental struggles. Song Jian, back then one of China's top officials, met the Dutch professor Geert-Jan Olsder at a World Congress in Helsinki. Olsder exposed Song Jian to influential books of the movement such as The Limits to Growth. Song was deeply impressed and a plan was born. In 1979 the one-child policy was introduced.
The policy has brought along some social as well economic consequences. Summed up, there is a labour shortage and an ageing population, children are being spoilt and overloaded (which could lead to suicide), abortion, and there is a surplus of men. Oh and I forgot to mention: if you do not obey the rule, there is huge fine awaiting for you, which can amount up to three times a year salary. So think twice (or once)... before you do anything you regret. An option, actually only open for the more well- to-do, to escape this rigid policy is to give birth abroad as in this way the child will not get the Chinese nationality.
So, the one-child policy raises a lot of discussion, with a lot of opponents as well as defenders. The fact is that at this moment in 2014 Xi Jinping, the president of China, still maintains the policy. As the original plan was to reduce the population to the desired level by 2080, I am not sure whether the policy will be stopped any time soon.
To come back to my Chinese neighbour in the plane, my question wasn't too stupid I presume as we exchanged numbers later on. And she helped me to find the taxi driver who was standing somewhere with a paper with my name on it. But, hee wait a sec, this is my first local contact!
I have much more to say, but need to run now, so stay in touch.