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Sunday, May 09, 2004

Today, I have learned a lot about Chinese culture, but
I have learned a lot about my own as well. In talking
about some of the greatest issues which China will
face in the future, one of the issues to arise was of
course population control. After asking them, the best
way in which to enforce the one child policy, most
said either through surgery or through birth control
pills. In the past, China used to force some people
who had more than one child to have their tubes tied,
but they no longer enforce this policy. Families would
also have to pay a heafty fine if they had more than
one child. This of course helped most people realize
that they only wanted one child. The problem was that
most people only wanted a boy. This meant that if a
wife got pregnant with a girl they would either have
an abortion to kill it or sometimes they would give it
to a family member or up for adoption. Although this
was not common, it did occur occasionally. This is one
of the reasons that China has banned an ultra sound
for pregnant women to make sure that they do not run
off and get an abortion just because she is pregnant
with a girl. Many people would sometimes keep trying
until they got a boy despite having to pay for the
penalty. Sometimes if they could not support the
children, they would give the girl to their parents or
another family member. Occasionally, they would even
sell the child. Although, this is illegal in China as
is all human trafficking. The government has strict
rules against this. However, you can give up children
for adoption, and last time I was in Beijing, I saw
many new families who had just adopted their Chinese
babies. I had went to a temple and many westerners
were being driven around in carriages on tours of the
city with their newly adopted Asain babies. They were
so happy to have their children. Some of the people
were older others were younger. There were also strait
and gay couples, so I guess that China does not
discriminate against who they allow to adopt children.
All of the couples were very happy. I am not sure how
they arrange the program, but it seems to be a good
policy. My students talked a lot about birth control
and sex. Most said that sex before the wedding is
forbidden, and they all seemed very sincere about
this. They were horrified to learn that China is going
to start giving middle school students sex education
classes as sex is not something which most people
openly talk about. But with the advent on the internet
and computer, they say that it has become necessary.
When they are first married, women will take birth
control and after the first child some women will have
their tubes tied. Others will receive a metal clamp.
They all believe that man should have a vasectomy but
doubt that it would ever happen. They all said that
when they have a child, the child will sleep with the
parents until the age of six or seven. This is just
customary. Children are very loved in China, and now
they believe that the children are very spoiled since
they are choosing to only have one. All said that they
do not care whether it is a boy or a girl as long as
it is healthy. Of course, most men want a little boy.
The children tend to be raised by their grandparents
while their families work. Care for the elderly has
become a very big issue in China as one couple is
having to take care of both parents. Traditionally,
the couple moved in with the fathers parents and lived
with them all of their lives and helped take care of
them. Now, young men and women are moving out on their
own then they have to figure out how to support their
parents when they get older. There is talk of nursing
homes, but most can not afford them, and many do not
like the idea, but they also do not have the room to
take their parents into their homes in the future, so
they are very unsure as to what will happen with this
situation. Health care is a very large issue, and most
of my students hope for universal healthcare, but they
do not believe it to be feasible for the government,
but they do think that price controls and restrictions
are not out of the question to make it affordable for
everyone. Therefore, even the farmer can afford it.
Many also hate the pollution, but they see it as
hopeless and are not sure what to do. I tried to give
them encouragement and told them that they should
encourage the government to replant tress, recycle,
pick up the trash, and use safe energy. But I felt
like a hypocrite since our own government does not
strive to do all of these things. Many also worried
about the stresses of the job and the fear of
unemployment. These are new issues which they might be
facing. Almost everyone in China has some form of job
in which they make some amount of money in order to
survive. I guess this keeps the people happy and
content. They wondered how we survived when we were
unemployed and whether we worried about it. They said
that modern life is very stressful, and they yearned
for a simple life such as farming as it did not have
all of the added preasures. I said that it is
stressful, but it is the price that people pay to live
in modern lives. They wondered whether it was worth it
or not. Weather the material wealth brought
satisfaction or just masked the realities of their
daily lives. I am not sure on this. Some how, we also
talked about guns, and they said that America is a
very scary place, and they would be terrified to live
there as many people own guns. I asked if people in
China own guns, and they said that no normal people
can not own weapons. They said that if America had a
similar policy then there would not be as many deaths
as occur everyday. I have to agree with them on this
one. Most people think that Americans are too
aggressive, and they actually think that we are bad
people who like to go to war. I have been told this
many times. They said that we should try to resolve
our problems peacefully. I agree, but I am not sure
that China is all that non violent in its dealing with
other countries. Of course, everyone keeps saying that
China has horrible human rights violations, but the
truth is that I have not seem them. Granted, I have
not been to the border regions, but in the areas where
I have been, I do not see any major violations. I
think that it is interesting that both of our
countries fear each other so greatly when the average
people are not much different from each other. The
discussions were very insightful, and I believe that
they all have bright hopes for the future, but they
also wander what it will be like if they do not take
measure to protect some basic qualities of life. Oh
well, it is late. I must go to sleep. Talk with you


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