China’s One Child Policy

The Chinese government introduced the one child policy in 1979 in order to slow down China’s population growth. Every year China’s population grows by ten million, putting a strain on the country which leads to social, economic, and environmental problems. However, it is only married/ urban couples that have to follow this law. Families that live in the countryside or families who have a daughter as a first child get permission to have another child.  I’m going to look at the different attitudes towards the one child policy between generations in China. Looking at numbers alone there has been a significant decline in births and it has proven successful in population control, however this policy is very controversial and has led to many unhappy and suffering families.

Advantages

  • It’s estimated that the single child policy has prevented over 400 million births.
  • It has been proven successful in cities and has provided a better education for many children
  • It allows parents to spend much more time and energy on their child.
  • Families that have supported the family planning policy will receive benefits from the Chinese Government such as health care and education.

Disadvantages

  • Since the single child policy was introduced there has been many reported stolen children and it was estimated that over 70, 000 children are kidnapped every year.
  • Parents find that single children can find it difficult to make friends and they can feel lonely because they have no brother or sisters.
  • Government Officials lose their job if they have more than one child.
  • Chinese culture traditionally prefer boys which results in a significantly larger amount of men than women in China.
  • People believe the policy has led to baby girls being killed, sold, or put up for adoption.
  • China’s population is living longer. The first children born under the single-child policy face the prospect of caring for an increasing number of pensioners.
  • The country also faces problems of men who can’t find wives due to female foetuses being aborted, resulting in a large gender imbalance.

An article featured on the BBC website by a man called Weiliang Nie looks at whether or not he thinks the single child policy is a fail or success. He grew up in China in the 1960s and 70s before the one child policy had been introduced and families were allowed to have as many children as they liked. Weiliangs’ parents had four children which was common for families living in this time period. However his generation now have to follow the one child policy which has come at a painful cost. He refers to one of his childhood friends’ who has had a second child, a daughter, yet she is registered as someone else’s child. When he does see his daughter she has to call him uncle in order for him to keep his secret and prevent the large fine he would receive. Some families however, don’t mind paying the money to have a second child as they believe it is worth it and benefits the other sibling as they are less lonely.

Another growing problem that has resulted from the single child policy is the gender imbalance. This is a very serious issue in China as more than 24 million men could find themselves without spouses as there are just not enough women. One of the main reasons that has lead to this problem is the large numbers of women who have abortions if they are pregnant with a female baby. As I mentioned earlier in the disadvantages, China’s traditional culture favours boys over girls and many families still carry this tradition.  The latest figures show that for every 100 girls born in China, 119 boys are born. This gender ratio will not only lead to men having no spouses but also inter-generational marriages, where the wife is older than the husband.

Interviews

Last summer I worked with a girl called Chenchen, aged 23, who was an only child due to the one child policy and was lucky enough to send her some questions to answer.

1)      Do you think the one child policy was a good idea?

Answer: I’m not sure. It was a good idea in that it reduced population growth however I know lots of friends and families who would have liked to have more children.

2)      Would you have liked to have had a brother or sister?

Answer: Yes I would have, but I was never lonely. I had lots of friends at school who also had no siblings, so we had a lot in common. But it would have been nicer at home to have another sibling.

3)      You now live in Scotland. Has this changed the way you feel about the policy?

Answer:  Well I work with people who have lots of brothers and sisters and it does seem very different. They talk about how they argue and fight which I obviously never had.

4)      When you start your family, how many children would you like?

Answer: I wouldn’t want a big family. It depends if I stay in Scotland or move back to China. But ideally I think I would like 2.

5)      Did your parents have a lot of brothers and sisters? And did they want more than one child?

Answer: Yes they both grew up in large families. Yes, especially my mother, as she grew up with 2 sisters and 1 brother, whom she is very close with.  However they couldn’t afford to have another child.

 Overall it seems like there are different opinions on the single child policy depending on the generations. My friend from work seemed quite comfortable being a single child but she does mention how her parents feel completely different. I suppose if they were brought up in big families it must have been really strange to then only be allowed one child. This is a very controversial topic but it’s very interesting to read about as it seems so different to how things are in Britain.

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Where do our products come from?

 

For this assignment I was looking into the level of awareness about where our products are manufactured and if it influences our choices in buying that product. Last week we watched a video in our lecture about EUPA, a major company in the southeast of China that employs 1700 employees and manufactures products we use every day. EUPA, also known as the ‘Factory City’ produce coffee makers, irons and grills in very large quantities and it definitely made me more aware of where my stuff actually gets made. The working conditions and lifestyles of these employees of EUPA were very different to the conditions we have in factories in Britain. EUPA employees live at their work and most of them get married there, which seems completely different to how we work but most of them seemed very content with this way of living. The accommodation and food seemed like it was high quality and they make friends and even send their kids to school there.I wanted to find out more information about production in China and decided to look into Apple products as they are very commonly used among people today. Most of Apple products are manufactured in China but after learning about the EUPA factories I wanted to see the difference between factories and the people who work there. Foxconn is based in China and is the company that makes most of Apples products, and just like EUPA, the workers sleep, eat and work here. Most of the employees that work at Foxconn are working there so that they can provide for their distant families. Factory worker at Foxconn, Apple Products

The conditions at Foxconn are similar to EUPA in that they produce large quantities everyday and the workers accommodation is based on the factory premises. EUPA,  however are very focused on satisfying their workers and keeping them happy but at Foxconn, the pay is very low and they have to share very small rooms with other people that they don’t know. What was interesting about EUPA was how the workers received lessons on how the products worked and learned information inside out about that product. At Foxconn most of the workers are from the countryside and have never even seen how an Ipad/ Iphone works, yet they spend six days a week making them. The girl featured in the photograph above was asked in an interview on the BBC what she wanted the people who end up buying these Apple products to know about her, she replied ‘ I want them to know me, I want them to know we put a lot of effort into that product and when they use it, use it with care’.

Interviews

After getting an insight about factories in China and where our stuff comes from I feel a lot more aware but I wanted to ask other people their opinions. I asked the following questions to different age groups in Dundee.

1)      When you buy something, do you check where it was made?

2)      Does this influence your choice in buying that product? why?

3)      Do you think about the people who made that product that you use?

 

I interviewed different age groups – Students , Middle aged , and elderly.

Student Group

1)      No

2)      Not really

3)      I’m aware it was probably made in a factory but I tend not to think about the person that made it.

 

Middle Aged Group

1)      Only sometimes, it depends what it is i’m buying.

2)      If i knew it was made in an area that had harsh working conditions I would be less likely to buy it. But most companies are private about their working conditions on factories so most people are unaware.

3)      Yes

 

Eldery Group

1)      Yes. I like to know where my stuff comes from

2)      No,

3)      Yes, especially if it is a product that has been handmade. Whereas electrical products, i would assume are made by different machinery.

From the interview results I received, it seems like most people are fairly unaware of where their products are made and they don’t really think about the person in the factory who has made that product. After reading and learning about the companies Foxconn and EUPA,  I think people dont take into consideration the long hours and hard effort that goes in to making these products for us.

 

 

 

Chinese Embroidery

Embroidery is one of China’s traditional styles of decorating fabrics, especially silk. China was the first country to develop and make use of silk fabric which eventually lead to embroidery. I’ve chosen to look at Chinese embroidery as i feel it’s quite a distinct feature in Chinese textiles and artwork. Some of the oldest pieces of Chinese textiles were created using embroidery techniques. Chinese embroidery has a long history dating back thousands of years to Neolithic times and they always used silk because of its strength and durability. There is not a precise date when embroidery was first practiced in China but many pieces have been discovered at archaeological sites. Some pieces have been discovered in tombs which date back to as early as the second century B.C.  One of the oldest and largest pieces of Chinese embroidery was the image of Shakyamuni preaching on the Vulture Peak ( see below).  This was discovered in Mogao, Gansu Province, 8th century AD. This piece of work was made from hemp cloth which was then embroidered with very fine woven silk.

The images used in Chinese embroidery can symbolise and represent lots of different meanings. Images such as animals, dragons, birds, florals were embroidered onto various items including robes, theatrical costumes, purses, shoes, wall pieces and interiors etc. Embroidery is a very skilled and intricate style of artwork and some pieces could take up to several years before they were completed. Finest pieces of embroidery were very expensive and only wealthy men and women could afford to buy them.

There are different styles of embroidery used in china. These are the 4 major regional and historical styles of Chinese embroidery.

Suzhou Embroidery ( Su Xiu )

This style dates back 2000 years and originates from Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. Suzhou embroidery was one of the first embroidery styles to be developed in China, but its detailed needlework and intricate images are still produced today. Some of the distinct features of Suzhou embroidery is that it was often two-sided, where the image was embroidered on both sides of the silk. Its beautiful patterns and images, subtle colours, variety of stitches were very skillful and time consuming (in some cases taking years to finish). The images used on this style of Chinese embroidery were quite typical using nature and environmental themes-flowers, birds and gardens with pastel colours. I’ve noticed that the main animals used in chinese embroidery are tigers, pandas and dragons.

Hunan Embroidery ( Xiang Xiu)

Xiang embroidery was created in Changsa, Hunan Province and has been used for hundreds of years. This style has been influenced by other embroidery styles however it has many characteristics which make it unique. The embroidery uses a lot more loose threads compared to the Suzhou style. There are several distinct needling techniques used in embroidery but the Xiang style uses a more ‘random’ way of needling, where the randomness results in colours and textures being mixed togther. Its distinct features include black, white and grey colour palettes with strong focus on the contrasts between light and dark. There is also a strong use of tigers and landscape scenes used on Xiang textiles. Xiang embroidery is still practiced today and has become very popular around the world being used on clothing, interiors and art pieces.

Guangdong Embroidery ( Yue Xiu/ Guang Xiu)

This originates from Chaozhon, Guangdong Province and dates back 1,000 years. This style of embroidery contains intricate and symmetrical patterns, using strong contrasting colours and varied stitches.  The main influence of this style was national folk art and the images most commonly used were of flowers and plants.

Sichuan Embroidery ( Shu Xiu)

This style originates from western areas around Chengdu, Sichuan Province. This is the oldest known embroidery style in chinese history and has been used for thousands of years.  As with most embroidery they always used silk and satin, as they were very strong and would last a lot longer than other materials. The distinct features of a Sichuan style piece were- emphasis on even stitching, pastel colours using, images of young women and the environment. Sichuan embroidery is used to decorate interiors such as quilt covers, pillowcases, curtains, fashion garments, shoes and painted screens. All of these embroidery styles are extremely beautiful and have characterisitics which make them very unique and interesting to look at.

China’s Image Abroad- Tourism

Image                             Travel Brochures I used- Thomson and ‘Far East’ by Hayes & Jarvis

China is one of the greatest travel destinations in the world, and sells itself to potential tourists due to its historical landmarks and culture. A holiday to China is very different to a holiday to Europe. People are drawn to visit China because it’s so unique and mysterious and it has so much to offer. It’s very successful in trading and business but it’s also extremely successful in tourism because there are two sides of China to visit, there’s the ancient side of China- where tourists can learn all about the history and visit famous landmarks such as- The Great Wall of China, Terracotta Army, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, etc. But there is also the modern side of China- such as Shanghai and Hong Kong. Hong Kong is where the business and commercial trade takes place but there is a great deal of entertainment for tourists and particularly westerners enjoy visiting here.

When looking through travel brochures and sites, I notice a lot of similar images, places and stereotypes used. The most common image is of ‘The Great Wall of China’ which is described as ‘an unforgettable journey’, with ‘breathtaking views’ and something that ‘photos simply can’t do justice’. Another popular place for tourists to visit is the Terracotta Army in Xian, where tourists can see thousands of warrior sculptures in the tomb of Emperor Qin.  Tourists are very interested in learning about the Emperors of China and so visiting the Terracotta Army offers an insight into the history of Emperor Qin and the army. Images of the terracotta army appear in travel brochures and websites and it’s described as a ‘must-see site’. The Forbidden City in Beijing is another tourist attraction as it served for 500 years as the home of emperors and the centre for Chinese Government. It is the worlds’ largest palace complex and covers 74 hectars. The Forbidden City is mentioned frequently on websites but less so in travel brochures.

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Although there all these fantastic historical places for tourists to visit, there is also the modern side of China which is very different. The shanghai skyline is an extremely popular image used on travel sites and brochures. It looks modern and futuristic due to its unusual architecture and skyscrapers and is described as having ‘glitzy bars’, ‘world class hotels’ and ‘elegant restaurants’. Entertainment in Shanghai is also very popular where tourists can have a taste of the Chinese Opera and acrobatic performances.

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Shanghai

Another modern city in China is Hong Kong which is a very vibrant and energetic place to visit. Hong Kong is where a lot of business takes place but tourists who visit Hong Kong get the opportunity to visit Disneyland and Ocean Park, which is probably more popular with families rather than couples or groups who are more interested in learning about the Chinese history. In one of the travel brochures it is described as a ‘vibrant metropolis where East meets West and ancient meets modern’ and is also known for having exceptional dining and over 11,000 restaurants. The Aberdeen Harbour is very popular and travel sites offer special deals where you can spend the evening enjoying food and drink whilst watching the city come alive at night time, ‘ sail through the harbour and watch the world’s greatest view turn into the world’s greatest light show’. It seems like there are two very different sides to China which both offer fantastic experiences but attract different types of tourists. Although China is evolving into a more modern country it still keeps its famous historical sites. There are cities that have outstanding modern architecture and other cities that have extremely old, traditional palaces and temples and this makes it a fantastic destination for tourists to learn and enjoy China’s history and culture.