China has been struggling with their massive population since the 1950s. The population began to outgrow their food supply, so they created a policy in 1979 to control the problem. The one-child policy that was enacted in 1979 just recently shifted to a two-children policy in January 2016. The damage that the one-child policy did to their population is now trying to be amended with the birth of 15.5 million babies this year. The majority of their population is currently in the retirement stage of their lives, which has caused a dilemma for their younger generation. This policy has caused a wide population gap between men and women. There are approximately 40 million more men than women in China, which makes it more challenging to reproduce. Some experts like Lu Jiehua at the Institute of Population Research at Peking University, say that the increase of newborns will not fix the issue.  Since some women are hesitant about having more children due to the poor social service in China, “many Chinese provinces have already started offering incentives, like in northern Shanxi where the number of holidays have been increased from 10 to 30 days for newlyweds.”  In Fujian, they offer women up to 5 months for maternity leave. In order to make a change in the population, Lu believes that the Chinese government will have to slowly expand their social policies. It is predicted that by 2020 Chinese couples will be able to have as many children as they want.
The population in China has been a major issue since the 1950s, and has been caused by several other political decisions from this time forward. China has experienced several political revolutions that have impacted their history economically and socially. Mao Zedong was the leader of China from 1949 until his death in 1976. Following his death, Deng Xiaoping came into office and created policies of his own- specifically the one-child policy. Deng set several economic goals and would do anything to achieve them, including sending anybody who stood in his way to prison. Policies such as the Great Leap Forward, the Great Proletarian Cultural revolution, and the one-child policy implemented from 1949 and onward have positively affected China economically, but the country has faced an overall negative effect on their society socially and has caused political corruption.
In 1949 there was a complex revolutionary process occurring in China. For the next few decades (1949-1956) China experienced several changes, which included an implementation of a ‘socialist’ state. These changes greatly affected the citizens’ lives for the worst socially and politically. Mao Zedong, the President of the People’s Republic of China (1954-1959) had this idea in mind to transform China into a competing society with other industrialized nations, like Britain. He called this campaign ‘The Great Leap Forward.’ This revolution brought many “leaders and peasants… chaos, agonizing choices, unbearable demands, and, in the ensuing family, death in a tragic number of cases” . The civilians experienced famine and had to leave their homes in order to search for food. The famine was estimated to be the worst of “human history altogether,” taking somewhere from 14-40 million lives . Chinese, Wang Fucheng, gave some insight about his experience during the Great Leap Forward. Fucheng once in poverty, rose to village leader in rural communist China. He knew nothing about the world outside of his small village (Houhua Village). At the beginning of the revolution, Fucheng states, “we all supported the cadres and constantly shouted slogans” . When others would criticize the movement, Fucheng was trained to respond with sayings like, “your thought is incorrect. If all are like you, how can we have a happy life?” . The farmers would farm all day long, stopping only once or twice to eat. They worked so hard and had such little outcome or reward. This source allows the reader to assume that the citizens of China were working so hard during this time period, and they were not fully aware of what was going on around them. Fucheng and others were brainwashed to believe that Mao’s new system would industrialize their country. It was not until the whole country was under famine for a couple of years when this movement of “The Great Leap Forward” finally ended. The author, Glennys Young, would collect people’s words and translate them for her book. This source is an interview type text, that informs students and other individuals what it was like first hand for people experiencing communism in the twentieth century. Mao’s Great Leap Forward negatively affected the citizens due to their individual struggle of being over-worked and not receiving any benefits in return.
Figure 1: Peasants Toiling During The Great Leap Forward, 1958
The economic policies under Mao help explain the current intervention of the Chinese Party in the economy. Under Mao policy, Mao made the “ultimate [decision]” and anybody who dared to not follow his lead, was viewed as extremely risky .During the Mao era, the economy did grow; however, only “fitfully and unevenly” . The majority of the population of those living in rural China were those who experienced poor living conditions, such as starving to death. Those residing in urban China experienced quite the opposite. They lived a more stable and economic secure lifestyle. Mao’s reasoning behind his economic policies were to follow the correctness of a communist based political system. He believed that the only way to implement a system which created economic growth “in an equal and non-exploitative manner was through the communalization of land, factories, and all other forms of property”. As a result, he “prioritized cultural transformation over economic gain” and the population experienced different outcomes from this mindset . Urban rural residents experienced very different lives during this Maoist period in China. For example, The China Communist Party (CCP) gained control of all private companies, and followed the “Russian communist model of urban industrial growth” . Urban residents were designated to work for these CCP controlled companies, and were not given the opportunity to change jobs or even leave the job throughout their career. Overall, the majority of the urban residents faced little to no stress and were secure financially. They received an adequate amount of food and basically free housing.
On the other hand, rural residents were treated very differently and were effected greatly by Mao’s policies. One of these polices is referred to as “The Great Leap Forward” and lasted from 1958-1960. All rural homes, land, and property was gathered together into “gigantic communes”. The CCP would come and collect the rural workers’ harvests to supply food to the urban residents. Since the rural workers faced strict conditions and put under intense pressure, they would over report the amount in the harvest. This left the rest of the rural residents with little to no food, especially in harsh weather seasons. Approximately 20-45 million rural wokrers died from starvation . Another policy of Mao’s, called the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution”(1966-1976) added more destabilization to the rural residents of China . The rural workers were required to house and feed Chineese children and urban residents who would come for education in manual labor. Mao used propaganda in order to enforce more of a communist ideology throughout the society. To sum this up, the economic policies implemented under the Maoist period had different effects on the population: the urban residents experienced economic stability, while the rural residents were forced to work hard without receiving much in return. Consequently, China experienced an unstable government and lost millions of their population. The people of China experienced unequal and unfair treatment, posing a negative effect socially due to the corrupt political decisions that were made by Mao Zedong.
Figure 2: Propaganda of Mao stating, “The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is the great school of Mao Zedong Thought”, 1969
The economy in China grew exponentially post-Mao era. From 1980 to 2005, GDP increased more than 680%, which has never been matched in human history . People in China experienced an average of about eight percent increase in income growth each year. Over 500 million people have risen out of poverty, when nearly 60% of the population during the Maoism period lived in poverty. Both urban and rural residents have been able to purchase more consumer goods, including home appliances, televisions, and motorcycles. The China-Party state did a great job of getting the Chinese out of poverty and into more of a financially secure economic system. One of the most significant factors to this change of economy has to do with the complete reverse of the policies Mao put into place during his time served. The initiator of this flip is Deng Xiaoping. Deng had the idea that they must put economic pragmatism over ideological correctness in order to have a more stable economy. Deng lived by a saying which showed this new mentality, “it doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches the mouse” . Deng and other Chineese political leaders felt that as long as they had no set path, they could mke adjustments on the way and move in a forward direction. They implemented a blend of communist economic fetaures, like the continuation of party-state ownership of large businesses and also capitalist ideas, like free-market Special Economic Zones. Due to the blend of the political policies that were posed in the post-Mao era, China’s economy was able to benefit tremendously.
Shortly after World War Two in the early 1950s, a population movement around the world was happening due to the many challenges rapid population growth had in other societies. The first United Nations organized meeting about world population was in 1974. At this meeting, the Chinese stated that population was not a “detriment of national economic growth and well-being” . However, a nationwide birth control plan was in the making. Ten years before this meeting, the Chinese had already established the Birth Planning Commission with the goal of reducing population growth to one percent by 2000 . Shortly after Mao Zedong’s death, the Chinese political leaders implemented a system that would keep the communist party in control and decrease the population. By 1977, a goal of reducing population growth rate by one percent within three years was set; however, was not achieved until 1998 . In 1978, the CCP came up with the idea that if families only had one child, the birth rate would reduce quickly. The policy began to come into act when the CCP would reward families who had only one child and punish those with more than one. The post-Mao leadership was successful in re-establishing the economy and largely included controlling the population size. This was because in order to gauge the success of increased living standards of the population was per capita GDP growth . Deng had a goal of quadrupling per capita income between 1980 and 2000. GDP growth has been the ultimate goal of the Chinese political system and reducing population makes that easier to do so . The one-child policy was never written explicitly in Chinese law, but was brought to attention through an “open letter to members of the Chinese Communist Party and the Communist Youth League” . With this announcement, there was notation of the consequences this policy may bring: population aging, lack of elderly support, sex imbalances, and labor shoratges. Also included in the letter was a promise that this policy would end within the next 25-30 years. The one-child policy was supposed to achieve several goals for the Chinese government, but really showed to have more of a negative effect on the society as a whole.
The Chinese government claimed that approximately 400 million Chinese births were prevented due to this policy. Although some say there were negative consequences because of this, the government insisted that this policy was necessary in order to facilitate economic growth. The implementation of this policy in fact had an even greater effect on the society as a whole. The social effect this policy left on the society is underestimated by Chinese officials . It left hundreds of millions of families with just one child, has altered families, and caused an unbalanced sex-ratio. Today, approximately one-third of families in china only have one child . Since the start of this policy, China has changed significantly over the last thirty-five years. The goal of quadrupling GDP that was set by Deng was easily achieved in only half the time. Today GDP per capita is roughly over $8,000, making China the second largest economy in the world- just behind the United States. The generation of the one-child policy has the most significant effect economically, socially, and politically. These citizens “are the best educated in Chinese history, are highly mobile geographically, and exert their power and voice in the sphere of social media” . This generation strongly believes in respect and that the decision of adding to the population is for the individual. Feng, Cai, and Gu stated that this policy will go down in the most detrimental in Chinese history, surpassing the famine of 1959-1961 and the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s . In summary, they also believe that the one child policy has created a society “with a seriously undermined family and kin structure, and a whole generation of future elderly and their children whose well-being will be seriously jeopardized” . Although the one-child policy accomplished the Chinese government’s economic goals, this policy destroyed Chinese society by interveing with the natural life-cycle.
Although China has experienced several democracy movements starting in the 1950s, Deng began to label these movements as dangerous by the end of 1979. People were imprisoned for attempting these movements, yet they still continue to occur to this day . Wang Junato grew up studying communist ideology. He stated, “but as I was confronted with social realities, I discovered a huge gap between the poverty of the people, and the ideological promises made to me, and I began to have my doubts about communist rule” . He participated in a democratic movement in 1976, and was placed into prison because of it. He was released from prison when Mao died, but continued his work on democratization. He was put into prison once again in 1989. Wang was released in 1991 and was exiled to the United States. Throughout the 1980s, several protests led by college students occurred throughout China. In 1989, a large protest in Tiananmen Square brought millions of people to the streets of Beijing. This protest posed a major challenge for the CCP, yet the party remained to stay in power. At the same time, several other communist countries in Europe were starting to collapse. In China, the government regulated the web and implemented systems similar to “Net Nanny” which restricted access to some websites . This caused a separation between the citizens because some were able to get around this firewall while others were uneducated and do not have access to these techniques. In the years following the Tiananmen protest, some westerners wondered if China would ever shift to a democratic political system. Bill Clinton estimated that if China were to see a change in media, that they may have the chance of seeing new forms of politics . As a result, the CCP has been working very hard on trying to keep their current political system in place. As the government thinks that these political policies are beneficial to Chinese society, it truly prevents the citizens from being able to become educated on world events and unable to see political change.
Figure 3: Democracy Protests in Tiananmen Square, 1989
China has experienced an unclear political system over the past three decades. The country has been running under communist rule for over sixty years, and then was mixed with private entrepreneurship and capitalist policies over the last thirty years. Currently, it is unclear where China stands politically, due to the “lack of transparency” by the Chinese government . The communist party is still in charge of government in China, “and is the only legal political party” . Some say that the evaluation of the country’s present and future are quite risky due to the uncertainty behind the political decisions. Since the Mao era, there have been more peaceful transitions in leadership and there have been some Democracy activists emerging. According to Morris, some say that China may experience a lack of development because it may never see a democratic heritage . With the communist party being in charge, the citizens’ role in decision making is not an option. Those who attempt to advocate for human rights are occasionally detained. Additionally, the central government officials show “disregard [towards] ordinary citizens” . For example, when building the Three Gorges Dam, they moved more than a million people out of their homes and diverted water onto their land. Other reports have been made that water has become infested with garbage, and experts have said that the creation of this dam caused an increase in the possibility for landslides and earthquakes. An additional lack of care of the officials include the permission of contaminated food and liquor to be sold, which has put the population’s health at risk. The country also experiences nepotism and corruption. In 2012, China ranked 75th out of 178 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Index. This is not a good ranking due to the size of the Chinese economy being one of the largest in the world . The communist system post-Mao has prevented advancements of economics, education, and the political system. Therefore, this has caused a difficult time for the Chinese to modernize.
From 1950 and onward, the political goals and decisions that were posed by Mao Zedong and Deng Xiapong have been corrupt. This corruption has had a negative impact on Chinese society, specifically because of the imbalanced sex ratios that occur in Chinese society today. As a result, families in China have been torn apart, and people are no longer wanting to have children because of poor social services in the country. The Chinese have been limited to knowledge due to internet restriction by the government, and have been prevented from seeing a democracy ruled political system. There are 40 more million men in China than there are women, causing a massive population gap. These issues all stemmed from an economic hungry government. By placing restrictions on the society, the Chinese lead the world economy, right behind the United States. It is vital to understand the importance of the effects of these policies due to the terrible consequences that they left on the Chinese people. Although there has unarguably been economic growth, it has destroyed the country in aspects that some believe to have caused a difficulty for the Chinese to modernize.
 “China Ends 2016 with More Births, but Not Enough to Balance Population.” EFE News Service, Dec 28, 2016, https://ntserver1.wsulibs.wsu.edu:6117/docview/1853279228?accountid=14902 (accessed January 17, 2017)
 EFE News Service, Dec 28, 2016.
 Young, Glennys. The Communist Experience in the Twentieth Century: a global history through sources. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. 209.
 Young, The Communist Experience in the Twentieth Century. 210.
 Wright, Teresa. Party and State in Post-Mao China. Chicester: Polity Press, 2015. http://orbis.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=2046400 (accessed February 21, 2017). 69.
 Wright. Party and State in Post-Mao China. 114
 Wright. Party and State in Post-Mao China. 115
 Wright. Party and State in Post-Mao China. 116
 Wright. Party and State in Post-Mao China. 117
Wright. Party and State in Post-Mao China. 118.
 Feng Wang, Yong Cai, and Baochang Gu. “Population, Policy, and Politics: How Will History Judge China’s One-Child Policy?” Population and Development Review 38, 2013. 115. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23655290. 117.
 Feng, Cai, and Gu. Population, Policy, and Politics. 118-119.
 Feng, Cai, and Gu. Population, Policy, and Politics. 120.
 Feng, Cai, and Gu. Population, Policy, and Politics. 126-127.
 Wasserstrom, Jeffrey N. China in the 21st Century: what everyone needs to know. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 71-72.
 Hom, Sharon K., and Stacy Mosher. Challenging China: struggle and hope in an era of change. New York: New Press, 2008. 101.
 Wasserstorm. China in the 21st Century. 85-86.
 Wasserstorm. China in the 21st Century. 123.
 Rossabi, Morris. A History of China. Malden, MA: John Wiley and Sons, 2014. Accessed March 21, 2017. 403.
 Morris. A History of China. 404.
 Morris. A History of China. 405.
Figure 1. Peasants Toiling During The Great Leap Forward, 1958, http://alphahistory.com/chineserevolution/great-leap-forward/
Figure 2. Propaganda of Mao stating, “The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is the great school of Mao Zedong Thought”, 1969, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution
Figure 3. Democracy Protests in Tiananmen Square, 1989, http://multimedia.scmp.com/tiananmen/