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China’s Population Crisis: An Evangelical Opportunity?


State-sponsored cruelty has been a staple of the human condition for millennia. But has there ever been a more wicked policy, with more disastrous social consequences, than the “one-child policy” China began to implement in the early 1980s—a state-decreed population-control measure that resulted in, among other horrors, untold tens of millions of coerced abortions? In her new book, One Child (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), veteran China-watcher Mei Fong describes both the impact of the policy on the destruction of China’s traditional social fabric and its draconian effects on China’s medium- and long-term future.

While demographic predictions can be perilous, there is also a relentlessness about demographic realities. And China, demographically speaking, is heading over the cliff, as the effects of state-mandated infertility, brutally enforced by a totalitarian regime, begin to be felt. For starters, China is about to experience a massive crisis in caring for its elderly—a task traditionally undertaken in Chinese culture by one’s children, but impossible when there aren’t enough children to do the job, Moreover, the pampered survivors of the one-child policy, often referred to as the “little emperor generation,” aren’t going to easily forget that it’s all about me as they face the challenge of inter-generational responsibility. So what happens when, in ten years or so, there will be more retired and elderly Chinese than there are Europeans, in a country that has nothing resembling western social safety nets?

One somehow suspects that a 2013 Chinese law that requires children to visit their elderly parents regularly—a coercive attempt to repair some of the social damage caused by even worse coercion—is not going to do the trick.

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