Xinhua General News Service (China), September 11, 2009
LOS ANGELES -- American scholar Barbara Pillsbury praised China's population control policy in a speech made Thursday at the University of Southern California but also warns of the challenges China faces.
Pillsbury, who has worked for the United Nations Population Agency, said China won't have achieved so much in the country's development if it did not pursue its population control policy.
She recalled China's population policy in the 1950s and said at the first 10 years since new China was founded, there were two different opinions on whether the country will control the population, and during the first 10 to 20 years there had no population control.
Pillsbury is a cultural and medical anthropologist, specialized in the design, management and evaluation of socioeconomic development programs in developing countries, especially in Asia.
She has worked extensively in China, conducting research, training workshops, evaluations and strategic planning for Chinese governmental agencies and international organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Population Agency ( UNFPA) and UNICEF.
Most recently she was team leader for the 2008 Review of the Government of China-UNFPA Country Program, which contributed to renewal of the U.S. government's contributions to UNFPA.
Pillsbury brings to China comparative perspectives from work in other parts of the world with many governmental and non- governmental agencies.
She compared China's population policy with India and said China has successfully controlled its population while India's population will increase dramatically. She predicted that by 2040, India's population will surpass China as the world's most populous country with 1.52 billion people, while China is expected to have 1.45 billion people.
However, Pillsbury also summarized the challenges China is facing in its population policy.
Citing differences between the urban areas and the rural areas, she said people living in the rural areas are comparatively poor and less educated. Now they are migrating to the cities to seek a better life.
But such a population floating will cause many social problems. In most time those new immigrants to the cities are doing the hard jobs with low pay. Medical care and education for their children require government help.
She said those who have migrated to the cities are between the ages of 20 to 29, while most of those who stay in the rural areas are the elder people. There is a problem of elderly support in the rural areas.
Gender gap is another headache for the Chinese government, she said. In the Chinese culture, most people still like to have a son. In normal conditions, there should be 105 baby boys and 100 baby girls. But in China , the ratio is 119 baby boys and 100 baby girls.
She said when this generation grows up, there will be a shortage of women and many Chinese men would have difficulty finding wives. Such a shortage would cause social problems.
Pillsbury also talked about China's dilemma at the aging population. She said before six young people would support one old people, but in the "one child only" generation, one young couple will support six old people. There will be a big burden for the younger generation.
Pillsbury also mentioned that China is taking measures to solve the aging problem, especially in the rural areas. She said there have been pilot programs in China to set up senior centers for the old people in the rural areas.
She also talked about the epidemics the Chinese population will face, such as AIDS, SARS and H1N1 flu.
She said in 2003 when China first had the SARS epidemic, the government response was not quick enough at the initial state, but this time when the H1N1 flu hit the world, China responded very timely and rapidly. In her opinion, China has become more open.
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