To prevent overpopulation in the country of China, a plan was set into motion beginning in the late 1970’s to dramatically lower the overall population growth to eventually reach a target figure of 700 million by the year 2080. While the rule of law has been China’s primary method of fertility control in its population using the policy previously known as “one-child” (now two-child), it also offers plenty of medicinal solutions to those individuals struggling with fertility, most notably the introduction of acupuncture. Although there is overwhelming support for the limitation of children in each family, the punishments enforced by the government for failure to comply with these laws are severe and are quite often seen as human rights violations in other countries.
Methods of Fertility Control
Given that China (a sovereign state in East Asia) is the most populous country in the world with close to 1.38 billion individuals (Worldometers, 2016), there is no question as to why fertility control is commonplace and center to the culture of those who live there. Fertility control simply “refers to patterns of human behavior that have as their primary objective the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and births” (Tietze, 1968). While the general methods of said fertility control are typically grouped into the four categories of “abstinence, contraception, sterilization, and induced abortion” (Tietze, 1968), China utilizes the rule of the law to enforce stability in the population. As a part of the population control and a division of the family planning policy, China enforced the policy known as “one-child policy” up until the end of 2015 (Tasch, 2015). This is simply defined as a given family only being allowed to birth a single child. It is important to note that this rule applies to just under 40% of the entire population, yet it stands as China’s primary method of fertility control (Tasch, 2015).
From 1949 to 1976, the population of China grew at an exponential rate, from 540 million to 940 million (China Daily, 2010). Yet beginning in 1970, citizens were strongly encouraged to birth less than or equal to two children and marry at later ages if possible. According to one of the top Chinese officials in 1979 known as Song Jian, the correct population of China was estimated to be 700 million. This number was determined after Song worked to ascertain an economic equilibrium with a group of mathematicians and after reading the most influential books of the population movement known as The Limits to Growth and A Blueprint for Survival. Once they understood their target figure, a plan was set into motion to drastically reduce the population of China to the level desired by the year 2080, utilizing the one-child policy as the primary instrument of the social engineering required to achieve the goal. This method of fertility control has always been in the hands of the government. However, that very policy has become more liberal starting at the beginning of 2016 “following its passage in the standing committee of the National People’s Congress” (Pew Research Center, 2008); as China re-created the policy to allow two children to be born in a given family known as the “two-child policy”. These policies have been overwhelming accepted in the culture for both men and women as approximately three in four individuals (a staggering 76%) approve of the law (Pew Research Center, 2008).
While China does not harbor the same concern for male infertility that perhaps other countries such as the United States do given the extremely high population figures, it does offer unique health and medicinal strategies to cultivate it. From the perspective of the Chinese, the primary causes of infertility in males are categorized twofold: “vacuities: of the Kidney energies, qi or blood, or excess conditions such as liver qi stagnation, blood stasis, or damp heat in the pelvic organs” (Harris, 2016). In addition, Western medicine pays little attention to the fertility problems that are directly caused and linked to hormonal factors. However, Chinese medicine provides a strategic treatment for these factors as well as others: acupuncture. In a study conducted by “the College of Acupuncture & Moxibustion at the Shanghai University of TCM in China, there was a reported 35 cases of infertility due to sperm abnormalities that were treated only with low-frequency electroacupuncuture” (Harris, 2016). The benefits documented were astonishing, including improvements in the symptoms of “lumbosacral aching, frequent urination, emission, and overall sperm parameters” (Harris, 2016).
If a given family fails to follow the rule of the one-child policy (now two-child policy) in the People’s Republic of China, the government has been known to enforces horrendous consequences. Such consequences include the jailing and physical abuse of individuals related to the mother responsible for breaking the law until she goes to the hospital, has an abortion and undergoes forced sterilization. If the birth has already taken place, families are subject to incredibly expensive fines that are “amounts many times the average annual income of many Chinese” (Tasch, 2015).
- China Daily. (2010, August 20). Total Population, CBR, CDR, NIR, and TFR of China. China Daily. Retrieved March 15, 2016 from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010census/2010-08/20/content_11182379.htm
- Pew Research Center. (2008). The Chinese Celebrate Their Roaring Economy, As They Struggle With Its Costs. Retrieved March 15, 2016 from http://www.pewglobal.org/2008/07/22/the-chinese-celebrate-their-roaring-economy-as-they-struggle-with-its-costs/
- Harris, L. (n.d.) Male Factor Infertility. Retrieved March 15, 2016 from http://www.chimedicineworks.com/index.php/health-programs/fertility-enhancement- acupuncture/health-issues-that-effect-fertility/male-factor- infertiltiy/?doing_wp_cron=1458057436.6848070621490478515625
- Tasch, B. (2015, October 30). The consequences of violating China’s one child-child policy were sometimes horrific. Retrieved March 15, 2016 from http://www.businessinsider.com/what-happened-when-people-violated-the-one-child- policy-2015-10
- Tietze, C. (1968). Fertility Control – International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Retrieved March 15, 2016 from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2- 3045000405.html
- Tsintolas, A. (2013). Penalties for Failing to Comply with the Policy. Retrieved March 15, 2016 from http://alexatsintolas.weebly.com/penalties-for-failing-to-comply.html
- Worldometers. (2016). China Population (LIVE). Retrieved March 15, 2016 from http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/china-population/