The role of a government is to ensure that its population is happy, healthy, and wealthy. However, different governments conceive of public benefits differently. China’s one-child policy was aimed to make the Chinese citizens happier and wealthier, limiting the population growth and ensuring that all people could provide for themselves. However, this policy had a detrimental impact on the citizens. The National Geographic documentary “China’s Lost Girls” informs the viewers about the implications of the one-child policy and demonstrates that controlling human lives is not always the best way to make the population happier and healthier. Although China’s one-child policy was created to limit the population excessively, it led to a substantial amount of unprecedented actions, such as the limitation of basic human rights.
Overpopulation is a serious problem putting the population of China at the hazard of starvation, poverty, and pollution. The one-child policy was created in 1979 to control the population growth and lift China out of penury (Zeng & Hesketh, 2016, p. 1930). Urban residents were permitted to have one baby only while rural citizens “were allowed to have a second child if their first child was a girl” (Zeng & Hesketh, 2016, p. 1931). Although this policy was aimed to improve the financial situation in the country, its effects were harmful. The government’s desire to control the way people lived their lives led to inexcusable consequences, which can be seen in “China’s Lost Girls.”
The documentary focuses on the problems of China, caused by the one-child policy. This policy along with the cultural belief that a son is more valuable than a daughter resulted in numerous abortions, abandonments, and even murders of newborn girls. Chinese people believed that a son would remain with his parents and work, providing for their living, while a daughter would marry and leave. Therefore, the most conscious parents gave their daughters up to orphanages while some parents tried to get rid of them, leaving them in grocery shops, parks, or other places. According to Bronstein and Myers (2004), 100.000 newborn girls were relinquished every year in China.
This statistic did not count the number of aborted and killed children. Killing and abandoning children only because of their gender will not make the population happier, healthier, and wealthier. However, the Chinese government seemed to have a different view of the situation.
The government should contribute to its citizen’s happiness, ensuring that all new regulations and policies are ethically correct. The limitation of basic human rights is not a proper solution to the problem of overpopulation in China because it is immoral. The one-child policy prevented only 200 million births, and this number could be even smaller with the rapid economic development (Zeng & Hesketh, 2016, p. 1931).
However, the number of abandoned children increased significantly, resulting in having at least 500 children in every orphanage (Bronstein & Myers, 2004). Although the government wanted to mitigate financial burdens, it would still have to provide for these abandoned children. If families were not restricted to having one child only, they would not get rid of the other children, and the state would not have to invest much money in orphanages. Thus, a government should make sure that its citizens are happy, basing all its policies on moral standards and allowing people to have several choices.
In addition, the role of a government is to provide its citizens with basic needs through proper education but not the limitation of their rights. If the state suffers from a deficit of resources, it should try to find new methods to recover these resources without controlling people’s ways of life. For instance, the problem of overpopulation might be solved or mitigated in a more civilized manner. The government could set up clinics for family planning education, informing the population about the existing methods of birth control. People should also be convinced that girls and boys are equally valuable and important.
They should understand that if all Chinese families had only sons, gender imbalance would occur, leading to crime and prostitution (Bronstein & Myers, 2004). Consequently, the state would suffer from other social and environmental problems, affecting the entire world. The government could change it, informing the population about all advantages and disadvantages of having one child only and giving people the possibility to make their choice.
What is more, the government could prevent physical and mental health crises, by changing the law that forbids women to know the gender of their children before they are born. If a woman knew her child’s gender as soon as possible, she would be able to decide whether to leave this pregnancy or abort. Although abortion harms a woman’s health and is also immoral, its effects are not as detrimental as the consequences of abandoning or killing a newborn baby. Besides, women become attached to the babies during their pregnancies, and leaving a child in a maternity hospital or getting rid of them later might lead to serious mental and physical health problems. Therefore, the role of a government is to ensure that the basic rights of its citizens are not limited.
Having watched the documentary, one can conclude that the restriction of human basic rights and control of their lives is not the best way to deal with overpopulation. The Chinese one-child policy created more problems than it aimed to solve. Thousands of baby girls were abandoned and killed only because of governmental restrictions. Since the role of a government is to ensure that its citizens are happy, it should take ethical and civilized steps to deal with emergent issues without controlling the way people live their lives.
Bronstein, A. (Writer), & Myers, A. (Director). (2004). China’s lost girls (Season 1, Episode 70) [TV series episode]. In J. Halperin (Executive Producer), National Geographic Explorer. National Geographic Society.
Zeng, Y., & Hesketh, T. (2016). The effects of China’s universal two-child policy. Lancet, 388(10054), 1930-1938. Web.