Notes on a Scandal | Issue 15
Sex and Death in China
This column was inspired by conversations with friends (particularly med students) who have time and again proved to be woefully ignorant of the earth-shattering events that regularly unfold just beyond our borders.
I am no current affairs expert. I am not a policy analyst or an investigative journalist. All of the information in these columns is freely available online. But for those disinclined to venture into the “World” section of the New York Times or the Guardian, I humbly offer up some snippy snippets of happenings happening next door in our global village. If all that you take away from reading this column is a vague sentiment of “Christ, how awful, I never knew”, well, I’ll be thrilled.
This week’s scandal involves sex and death in China. In early June Chinese mother Feng Jianmei refused to pay a US $6,300 fine for becoming pregnant with her second child. She was kidnapped and beaten by “family planning” authorities, and her labour was forcibly induced, resulting in the death of her seven-month-old foetus.
Graphic photos of Feng in a hospital bed next to her dead baby went viral on the internet (Google if you dare). Unusually, the Chinese government made local authorities offer her an apology and compensation. However, Feng’s husband has since been beaten and harassed when he tried to go to lawyers and the media. At the time of writing, Feng was being held under guard in hospital.
The one child policy is the Chinese government’s solution to population control. Living standards are rising, people are living longer, and the environment and infrastructure cannot withstand the pressure. Ironically, the reason living standards are rising is the explosive economic growth that is fuelled by China’s gigantic labour force.
Ultimately, the one child policy might prove to be more trouble than it’s worth. Each child will soon have to single-handedly support two parents and four grandparents. Also, population growth will soon begin to level off, resulting in a smaller labour force whose members will be less disposable, and will therefore have to be paid more.
There is lots of talk about China’s “rise” and Aerica’s parallel decline, but China might just prove to be its own worst enemy. In the meantime, how many more Feng Jianmeis will there be? It’s a safe bet that this is not the first time this has happened, and nor will it be the last.