Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Should China Allow Her People to Have a Second Child?

Recently, a new regulation was added to China's famous One-Child Policy. If the husband is an only child but the wife is not, that couple will be allowed to have two children; or visa versa.  Previously, the new policy was that both husband and wife had to be only children to be allowed to give birth to a second child in China.  

One of my students gave an insightful presentation on this topic under the above title. Here is what she said:

       In the early 1970s, China started to carry out the one-child policy. At that time, the population in China was so large that it brought many problems to our society. We could not provide enough food and education for all the people, so the government needed to control its population. Everyone had to accept that we don't allow one couple to have a second child. The policy on family planning is reasonable and necessary. Though it is a big challenge for the traditional opinion of "More children, more happiness."

       In most of cities, a couple only can have one child, and in most of villages, only two children. You will be punished seriously if you have one more illegal children, like having to pay large amount of money maybe 20,000 or 30,000 yuan. I know that because one of my neighbor paid 30,000 yuan to get a boy as the second child. Or, most cruelly, maybe you are forced to have an abortion. There are many bloody example that I cannot list because saying that is illegal.

       In this way, the growth rate of population declined sharply, from 5.8 percent growth in 1970 to 2.24 percent in 1980, reducing the great stress on economic development. However, some people still fight against this policy, which are from both personal and public point of view.  

       One-child policy is harmful to the development of the kid's character and personality. The first generation won't have siblings, and the send generation won't have siblings or first cousins. Many children will be spoiled, resulting in the "little emperors."  Many parents spoil their children because they give them everything they want, and almost never ask them to do anything at home. All these make them show of basic skills in life and unpopular with the society in the future.

       Furthermore, the lack of brothers or sisters in the family does great harm to their psychological development as they may feel lonely all the time.  "I do not want to be the only child of my family," one of my best friends had told me. "I always feel lonely and helpless." I have discussed it with my classmates who are the only child and they have got the same feeling. When school is over, we go back home and have no one to talk with, for parents are busy with their jobs or house chores. Even when they have leisure time, due to the generation gap, we have nothing in common. On our way to adulthood, we have met a lot of trouble on which they linger and ponder.

       The effect of the policy on the sex rate has received much attention. Women have always been considered the lower sex in China, despite the Chinese Government trying to change it. Because we are deeply influenced by conservative, traditional Chinese thinking pattern, the couples who have a baby girl sometimes they will kill or abandon their child, so they can try again for a boy. Because of the large number of infanticide and abandoned girls, China now has an unbalanced population; with a lot more boys than girls. This results in a high umber of girls going into prostitution.

       When the first generation of law-enforced only children become parents themselves, one adult child was left with having to provide support for his or her two parents and four grandparents. In China, this problem has been named the 
"4:2:1: phenomenon, meaning that increasing numbers of couples will be solely responsible for the care of one and four parents. If the old people are in different places, how can the couple take care well of all these old people?

To conclude, the policy was reasonable in the late 70s. But the time has changed, I think, and the one-child policy should change very soon. Only in this way can we solve these problems and make China become a real harmonious country.

The operative word is IN China regarding one child. Many educated couples leave China to work abroad and have one or two children which they can legally bring back to China. Then they can have their 1 child in China and all is well; so long as they can afford them. And that is the biggest factor today. Regardless of policy easing, it is just too expensive to have more than one child anymore; and in some cases not worth the trouble to have any children.

A popular actor ran afoul of the law when it was discovered that he had a lot a children who are now adults. Outing celebs and officials in China is the latest game in social media….like anywhere else in the world.

Friday, January 17, 2014

This Might Be The Scariest Trail In The World.

       The camera shots of this trail have traveled around the world several dozen time by now. But living in China brings a whole new perspective to this perilous adventure.
       There are 5 recognized "sacred" mountains in China. I'm not sure if this is one of them. Nevertheless, it's probably on a few million Chinese bucket lists.
       Xi'an, which is the major city near this mountain, is the oldest capital of China (about 4000 yrs old); home of the famous Terra Cotta Warriors from the tomb of the first major, uniting and fierce Emperor Chin. It wouldn't surprise me if the monks who carved out this treacherous path weren't motivated by a desire to flee from the emperor's famous wrath…and need for  tons of cheap labor; what with building a massive tomb & Great Wall, and all.
       In the 8th, 10th, 11th & 12th photos I saw something I would have escaped my understanding before living in China.

We hope you’re not afraid of heights, because this even made our palms sweat. What you see below is a mountain in China called Mt. Hua Shan. At its base, you’ll find a gigantic set of stone stairs, called “the Heavenly Stairs.” These stairs go so high up the mountainside, it’s hard to see where they end. If that wasn’t enough, the precarious stairs lead to the world’s most dangerous trail, the Hua Shan plank path. The plank trail leads high up the Hua Shan mountain just outside the city Xi’an. No one will force you to wear safety gear, although it’s strongly encouraged. The trail itself is dangerous and stunning, but what is at the top will really shock you.

In this section of photos you may notice LOCKS attached to the chains. We saw thousands of these locks in China and Korea; usually in high places like giant towers and mountain tops.  In every case they are attached and locked in place by young couples who are witnessing their love for each other & sealing their love in sacred, formidable places. 

This series of photos reminded us of the many repair jobs in China. No concept of safety codes in this country. I don't think I could handle viewing a photo of the workers building this plank trail !!

So, either these people really like dangerous climbing, or they really like tea. Either way, you should probably check out the teahouse at the top of Mt. Hua Shan.
Just make sure to bring a helmet.         ….WHY? A helmet will save your fall?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

BYU Dance Group Bridges Cultures, Builds Connections in China

Sharing a passion for the arts brought dancers from Brigham Young University and China together in a unique cross-cultural experience.
BYU’s Contemporary Dance Theatre recently returned from a trip to China where they performed as invited guests in a prestigious dance festival showcasing China's top university dancers. BYU was the only group from outside China to perform.
The visit to China is the latest in a series of outreach efforts by performing arts groups and others at the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications, designed to build relationships and connections around the world. The invitation marked the 28th time since 1979 that performing troupes from BYU have visited China.
“Despite our differences in language and geography, the value of the arts, including those human expressions of love, goodness, truth, beauty, and excellence unite us,” said Stephen Jones, dean of BYU's College of Fine Arts and Communications.
BYU dancers presented Encounters, a show that explores the meshing of both different styles and different cultures. They performed three times, including at the Chun Hua Qiu Shi festival in the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing.
The experience also served as an opportunity to collaborate with members of the Beijing Dance Academy, many of whom visited BYU last year to perform with students from the BYU Department of Dance.
“These excellent institutions are committed to the success of their students,” said Wang Wei, vice president of the Beijing Dance Academy. “We hope all of these student participants will use their gifts to express to the world their conviction that beauty and goodness will always overcome the challenges and difficulties of life, and that through our work together we can preserve the best fruits of our cultures and societies for future generations.”
Students from BYU and the Beijing Dance Academy had only three days to prepare for what would be the final dance of the program. Although only a handful of the dancers from either group spoke the others’ language, they were able to merge together to deliver a spectacular performance. Jiamin Huang, a former student of Beijing Dance Academy and now a BYU associate professor of Dance, choreographed the final number.
Nathan Balser, assistant professor of dance at BYU and artistic director for Encounters said the variety of dance styles performed by the Contemporary Dance Theatre ensemble presented a unique challenge.
“We were asked to represent ballroom, folk, and other entities,” Balser said. “In response we created and performed this concert wherein our dancers showcased all of these genres.”
Balser was quick to point out the talent he saw on display from his dancers, but he was just as impressed with their work ethic. Before the trip, the group rehearsed continually, putting in a lot of extra hours. In the end, they saw it pay off and the dancers from both sides shared some special moments.
“I found all of the dancers circled up behind the curtain, expressing their love and gratitude to each other,” Balser said. “While I didn’t get to join in the conversation, I could sense that it was a really special moment for all of them.”

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Precious & Scarce

We take some of things for granted in the West…like tissue paper at critical moments or napkins in public eateries.  Because my squat stats are 0 in China I never experienced one of those tissueless critical moments but I was always prepared to supply my Beloved with his needs because there are no tissue dispensers in public WC's in China, at least not in the dozen cities we have visited.

Our students taught us to carry with us at all times the ubiquitous, tiny packet of tissues. Students never needed to ask to leave class as the reason was obvious when they hurried out carrying the precious tiny packet. It was sweet to see a student's kind generosity as a packet was quickly handed to a friend as he/she rushed out of class.

For some reason, paper and public don't mix in China.

What passes for napkins in even the finest restaurants can be best described as tissue paper…small tissue paper. Only one tissue-napkin per customer was handed to us as we paid our bill at our favorite Chinese buffet restaurant.  Sometimes a nice restuarant will give you a small box of tissues perfect for blowing one's nose but scarcely adequate for protecting one's lap or wiping ones hand's. Come to think of it, maybe that's not what the box of tissues is for?

One of the reasons for my 0 public WC stats is that precious tissues are stashed in open baskets rather than flushed in China. Not going there.

Even after giving this paper dilemma a thought or two, I can't figure if this scarcity is due to the lack of this resource in China or the general lack of regard for people's needs.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Who Is The Incredible Lily?

It is a ubiquitous custom in China that when an elderly person comes on the bus a younger person will stand up and give the elderly person his/her seat. On Sunday morning, March 3rd, white-haired, elderly-looking John got on Bus 16 for a 40 minute bus ride to attend church at the Hanlin Hotel; but, oddly enough, no one offered him a seat. Then a young lady who was standing told another young person who was seated to stand up and give John the seat. The person complied and when John gratefully took the seat he started up a conversation with the young lady who we now know is the incredible Lily. He introduced us as English teachers at Shandong University and offered to help her improve her English if she was willing to do so; which she was. That was the beginning of a great friendship.

She enjoyed the opportunity to practice her English with us and we enjoyed giving her "first" opportunities. Plus, Lily gave us incredible assistance with all manner of things during our second semester that we didn't have first semester, which really made our China experience more positive and memorable. Lily is an expert at bargaining in the night markets because she earned her way through college selling merchandise on the street/night markets.

We took Lily to Jennie's Cafe where she attempted to eat with a knife, fork & spoon for the first time. It wasn't easy for her…kind of like us manipulating chopsticks for the first time. We took Lily with us when we dined out at a Chinese restaurant and she helped us order delicious and interesting Chinese dishes that we would not have known to get without her. 

Lily was with us once while we were tutoring three young elementary students in oral English, and she told us that she did not start school in her village until she was nine years old. While she couldn't attend one of the better high schools, she still applied herself to her studies and learned English quite well in record time. 

The year before we met Lily, she graduated from a three-year technical university which was a few miles away from Shandong University and now she has a good job in Jinan. She rents an apartment located about a 20-minute bus ride from our apartment, with five other working gals. Her apartment is very old; older than the apartments that were built to accommodate China's Soviet-style heating system in which radiator-heat is turned on November 1st and turned off April 1st. So, there is no heat in her apartment during the winter. Neither was there any heat in her village home where she grew up.  As of today, the only time Lily experienced heat during the winter was during the 3 years she lived in a dormitory while she attended the technical university.

To visit her family, Lily travels for five hours on an old, slow train for which she pays a standing-room-only ticket; and then takes a one-hour bus ride to her village.  So it was with great delight that she took her first high-speed train ride with us. We took her with us on our trips to Qingdao, Mt. Tai, the Kong estate (Confucius), and Nanjing; which was the first time she experienced good American-style hotels and restaurants. And she enjoyed her first Chinese feast in a fancy Chinese restaurant with us. It was a lot of fun giving Lily interesting "first" experiences. Perhaps the best 'first' was when we rode the motorized boats at Daming Lake and let her drive the boat around the lake for an hour. This inspired her to study and take lessons to get her first driver's license. She went on her first tour with American tourists on the northern Silk Road which really helped her practice her English. All the Americans loved her like we do and she was such a helpful bargainer. 

Our first trip to China was magnified because of the 'first' experiences we shared with the incredible Lily.