Overpopulation in China
Chinese culture occupies a special place among the world’s most ancient cultural groups. Throughout many centuries, it was widely known as a great Chinese Empire, and nowadays it is officially addressed as the People’s Republic of China. One of the major peculiarities of China is the culture and mentality of its nation. The Chinese nation can be referred to as a hardworking nation that believes in its ideals and in the steadfastness of its values. Chinese social patterns have been historically based on the national traditions and customs acquired from their ancestors that consequently formed a unique set of national norms, values and beliefs with a focus on social duties and responsibilities. In spite of the diversity of its cultural legacy, China faces one of the most severe demographic challenges of the modern world, which is the overpopulation. The attempts of the People’s Republic of China to take intervention measures to improve the demographic situation by means of introducing one-child policy and other government policies within the country has resulted in the growing number of elderly people and the decreasing number of the young population.
Family Values and Female/Male Roles
Family is an essential element of the Chinese system of values. Moreover, it can be interpreted as the primary social and moral norm and duty of each Chinese citizen. In China, a family is not only a separate unit of the society but also a compulsory element of a tranquil life. The major difference of the Chinese family values from the Western trends lies in the ascendance of the well-being of the family over individual well-being and needs of each given family member (Chang & Kemp, 2004). Another peculiarity of Chinese family values is revealed through the prevalence of extended families, which implies that several generations are united under one household (Chin, 2005). Correspondingly, the Chinese society is to be addressed as a society based on the notions of hierarchy and patriarchy. The eldest and therefore the wisest family members define the forenamed family well-being patterns. The norms of the Chinese society dictate a profound respect to the elders and oblige addressing them using their last name along with the title (Chin, 2005). In China, a girl is not an integral element of the parent family and that is the reason a daughter-in-law is considered more valuable in terms of being a caregiver for the family elders (Zhang, 2006). Evidently, in the Chinese culture the birth of a male child is perceived as a more expected event that the birth of a female due to the patriarchal attitudes of Confucianism, along with the fact that a girl becomes a part of her husband’s family once she gets married. Having a son in the Chinese culture is seen as a powerful investment and the premise for the family’s financial prosperity (Chin, 2005). Correspondingly, the distribution of the female and male roles in China presents a unique scheme built on male dominance and female obedience. The eldest males make the major part of the family decisions. Female family members, in their turn, are expected to fulfill a subordinate role to the men of the family and never question their judgments. The above listed family norms have evolved into a severe social demographic problem as the introduction of China’s one-child policy has subsequently led to a great number of abortions among Chinese women, who wanted to have one son instead of one daughter as an only child in the family (Tal, 2013). The only exceptions are made for the families that live in rural areas and already have one female child. The same is applicable for couples constituting of ethnical minorities (Chin, 2005). These two family groups are permitted to have a second child bypassing the child restricting policy. It is important to note that due to the introduction of the aforementioned child policy, the number of female society members is constantly decreasing, as they are the major caregivers of the high percentage of the Chinese elderly (Zhang, 2006). In spite of all the nuances, family has always been and continues to be the key element of the Chinese traditions and norms.
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Attitudes to Religion and Death
Chinese religious values stand out among the religious patterns of other nations due to the two main characteristics: the conflict of communism and religion, and the vast affect of Confucianism. Formally, China is an acknowledged as a communist country without an official religion. As the representatives of a communist country, many Chinese people deny their connection to any religious groups. The Chinese nation is divided into those who claim to be atheists and those who indeed affiliate to a certain religion. The most widespread religious practices are associated with Taoism and Confucianism, along with a smaller number of adherents of Buddhism, Islam and Christianity (Zimmerman, 2013). Notwithstanding the communist nature of China, religious beliefs have become an integral compound of the social and political administration. Confucianism occupies a special place in the system of values of the Chinese people. The affect of Taoism on the Chinese society has evolved into the creation of an exquisite alliance between the Chinese people and the surrounding nature. Moreover, it is important to identify traditional Chinese religious and other values as “primarily build on Confucian theories” (Zhu, 2008, p.21). The main goal of human life from the perspectives of Confucianism is achieving inner harmony. According to this teaching, the forenamed harmony can be achieved only under the condition of building decent and genuine relationships throughout life. This includes the relations between children and parents, as well as the relations between students and teachers that are claimed to be the driving force for harmonious spiritual prosperity of any human being (Chang & Kemp, 2004). It is hard to underestimate the role of Confucianism in the life of Chinese people as it is primarily focused on the individual’s obligation to fulfill a set of duties in terms of interpersonal and family relations. Besides fulfilling family duties, Chinese people are to be sincere and loyal to people, promote the value of honor, show respect to the elders and manifest filial piety (Zimmerman, 2013).
Chinese people believe that social stability completely depends on the ability of its members to maintain harmonious relationships with each other. Along with the Confucian position in life, Chinese people demonstrate a unique attitude towards death, as they prefer not to talk about it openly and consider it a “natural feature of life” (Ivanhoe & Olberding, 2011, p. 2). In addition, Chinese culture promotes the belief in life after death, which highlights the necessity to have a decent funeral with appropriate public notification and the white cloth mourning attire. The son’s failure to provide a respectable funeral is interpreted as a social insult (Ivanhoe & Olberding, 2011). Thus, the religious beliefs and attitude to death shape the essence of the Chinese society revealing it as a highly moral social structure with pro-Confucian trends.
Education and Culture
Chinese people highly value education and literacy and consider it an essential element of the individual’s future success. In Chinese culture, being well-educated stands for being respected and honored by the society, and the child’s failure to have excellent academic performance brings shame upon the whole family (Chin, 2005). This fits into the Chinese strict disciplinary views on the education and upbringing as literacy and education are the primary priorities of the Chinese society. The educational system of China consists of three classic components: pre-school education, primary and secondary education, and higher education. Nevertheless, every citizen is obliged to acquire a 9-year secondary education, supported by the 1986 Chinese compulsory education law (Chang & Kemp, 2004). Chinese overall cultural values are based on three principle values: collectivism, stability and righteousness; each of them is a cultivated desirable Chinese value (Hofstede, 2001).
Chinese collectivism is revealed throughout the neglect of personal interests in favor of the needs of the family. Stability, both financial and spiritual is assessed as the primary goal of the development of each given individual. Righteousness promotes the obligation of the Chinese people to have a morally legitimate behavior at all times. Chinese people themselves distinguish the following ten most valuable things in their lives: wealth, family, love, work, education, dignity, interpersonal relationships, responsibility and dependence (Deng, 2007, p. 83). Generally, the Chinese culture is rather conservative in terms of presenting emotional responses and striving for the preservation of the outward harmony over facing the truth that may lead to the family’s disgrace (Carteret, 2011). These cultural values are vital due to the growing number of the Chinese elderly population and the decreasing number of young population resulting from China’s attempts to stop the overpopulation.
Overpopulation in China
Overpopulation is one of the most arguable issues within the global community. It is the driving force of hunger, reduction of natural resources, deforestation, desertification, and social afflictions all over the world. According to the information provided by the World Health Organization, China has statistically proved to be the most populous country on the planet. The background information and trend data on China’s overpopulation has always been a topical issue due to its 1.35 billion inhabitants (Zimmerman, 2013). Clearly, China represents a 20% portion of the planet’s population, which indicates that each 5th person in the world is Chinese. The government of China has addressed the problem by raising the question of the restricted amount of children in a given family unit. In 1986, China implemented its one-child policy, which restricted the amount of children in each family as a primary overpopulation measure. As a result, the problem has shifted from its quantitative to its qualitative compound by changing the proportions of the young population and the elderly. Contemporary global trends persist on the potential doubling of the planet’s population by the year 2050, which directly implies the doubling of the population of China to the number of nearly 3 billion inhabitants (Kaneda, 2006).
The Chinese population pyramid trends reveal the increasing amount of people over 80 years old and the decreasing amount of infants, teenagers and young adolescents. The short-term impact of China’s overpopulation implies that there is a necessity of greater territory for its dislocation, along with a larger need for food and water supply. Correspondingly, many farmed lands will be taken out of production to accommodate the growing population. It is understood that the phenomenon of overpopulation has a strong impact on the country’s economy, environment, and even its government due to the energetic deficiency. China has already outlived the 1958-1961 food deficiency of almost 20 million Chinese people resulting from the deterioration of the country’s natural capital (Tal, 2013). This three-year hunger is to be analyzed as a significant lesson indicating the potential famine caused by overpopulation. Thus, the major short-term effects of China overpopulation are associated with the social and economical problems, while long-terms overpopulation aftereffects focus on the environmental and security issues. The long-term impact of China’s overpopulation can lead to not only degradation of land, pollution and poor living conditions of its inhabitants, but also the problem of unemployment, which would stimulate hunger and poverty and correspondingly raise the crime rate of China (Kaneda, 2006). The country’s attempts to provide sufficient amount of energy, food and water for its population will result in the growing debts and therefore affect the economical condition of not only China, but other assisting countries as well. Simultaneously, overpopulation will lead to intense air pollution and consequently evoke more health problems that will require more financial investments from the government. It is hard to estimate the devastating consequences of the growth of China’s population on the example of 200 million famine-related deaths during the last thirty years all over the world (Tal, 2013).
The first step towards acquiring the solution to the problem of China’s overpopulation has been historically taken by the country’s government. Since 1986, the Chinese government has implemented a set of preventive measures to control and decrease its population revealed through the introduction of China’s one-child policy, birth-control sterilization policy after having two children, one apartment purchase per family policy and the new car lottery policy (Scharping, 2003). Therefore, the measures included demographic growth control and the control over the occupied living space. According to the Chinese family control policy, a couple needs to get a birth certificate before the birth of their child. The failure to have one child evolves into a tax equaling 50% of the family’s income or other social and economic restrictions including loss of job (Kissinger, 2012). The potential solution to the problem of China’s overpopulation lies in three vital requirements: minimization of consumption, introduction of effective contraception and application of pollution penalties. The forenamed requirements are to be fulfilled by all individuals based on the nation’s increased awareness of the problem by means of introducing widespread demographic awareness programs. Such demographic awareness programs can be supported by fundraising events and donations. Accordingly, the solution to China’s overpopulation cannot be solely build on government policies, which may prove their inefficiency, but on the accessibility of sexual health care, search for alternative resources, new ways to promote individual pollution responsibility, and spreading awareness. The combination of these methods will greatly contribute to China’s attempts to stop the overpopulation crisis.
China is a country that highly respects the notions of social hierarchy and patriarchy. It is known for its strong family values and the dominance of males and the elderly. Chinese culture encourages the individual not to put personal desires above the needs of the family and the well-being of the society. The harmony of interpersonal relationships of Confucianism is seen as the main cultural postulate of personal development. Chinese social status is formed on the grounds of gender, level of education and social prestige. Notwithstanding its capacities, China currently faces the problem of overpopulation, which stimulates short-term socio-economic and long-term environmental and security issues. The People’s Republic of China is to support its government policies by means of the popularization of contraception and education along with the introduction of individual responsibility for excessive use of resources and environmental pollution.