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Mei Fong: Indelible influence of China’s one-child policy

one-child, mei fong

Readers would be forgiven for thinking that the announcement, on Oct. 29, 2015, that China was changing its one-child policy would have turned this book from an account of the daily lives of Chinese people into a work of history. Not so. The event itself came rather late for Mei Fong's "One Child." But she makes disconcertingly clear that the repercussions of population control will continue to reverberate throughout China. The policy itself remains a monument to official callousness, and Fong's book pays moving testimony to the suffering and forbearance of its victims.

2015年10月29日,中国宣布改变其独生子女政策,所以,如果读者觉得这本书已经成为历史,不再同中国人的日常生活有关,这种想法也是可以谅解的。但事实并非如此。对于方凤美(Mei Fong)的这本《独生子女》(One Child)来说,这件事来得有点迟了。但是她发出了不和谐的声音,表明人口控制所带来的后果还将持续在整个中国造成影响。这个政策本身仍然如同一块碑石,记载着当局的冷酷无情,而方凤美的书为那些计划生育政策的牺牲品们提供了感人的证词,记载了他们的苦难与忍耐。

Population control was not unusual in the 1980s. India also had a fertility-­control program. The United Nations gave its first-ever population award to the Chinese minister for population planning in 1983 (along with Indira Gandhi). But China's application of population control was particularly ruthless.

人口控制在20世纪80年代并不罕见。印度也有生育控制计划。1983年,联合国把自己的第一个人口奖颁给了中国国家计划生育委员会主任(与此同时还颁给了英迪拉·甘地[Indira Gandhi]),但是中国执行人口控制的方式格外残忍。

In 2012, Feng Jianmei, a factory worker pregnant with her second child, was taken to a clinic, forced to sign a document consenting to an abortion and injected with an abortifacient. She was in her seventh month. Pictures of her lying next to her perfectly formed seven-month dead fetus went viral. But hers was hardly an unusual case. In the 1990s, population targets became a major criterion for judging the performance of officials. It is no surprise that they carried out the one-child policy ruthlessly. Reading this account, one wonders why rape as a weapon of war is (rightly) seen as a war crime, whereas the forcible violation of women's bodies in pursuit of government policy wins United Nations awards.

2012年,怀有二胎的女工冯建梅被带到医院,强迫签署流产同意书,并被注射了堕胎药。当时她怀孕已经七个月。她和死去胎儿的合照在网上迅速传播开来,照片上七个月大的死胎放在她身边,已经完全发育成型。她的故事并不罕见。20世纪90年代,人口政策是否落实成了评判官员绩效的重要标准。他们会残酷无情地执行独生子女政策,也就丝毫不令人奇怪了。读过这些报道,读者不禁会疑惑,既然战争中以强奸妇女作为武器的行为会被视为一种战争罪(当然,这是正确的),那么在执行政府政策的名义下暴力侵犯女性身体又为什么会被授予联合国的奖项?

As Fong makes clear, the one-child policy was not just a crime. It was a blunder. Fertility would have fallen anyway, as happened in other Asian countries, albeit not quite so far and fast. But the policy further distorted sex ratios, resulting in more boys than girls. And it changed expectations: Most people now want only one child. That is why the policy may prove to be hard to reverse.

正如方美凤所表明的,独生子女政策不仅仅是一种犯罪,亦是一种失策。和其他亚洲国家一样,中国的生育率总会降低的,即便不是降低得这么多,这么快。但是这项政策进一步扭曲了性别比例,使得男孩远比女孩多。同时也改变了人们的期待,现在大多数人只想生一个孩子了。所以这项政策可能会很难扭转。

The greatest strength of Fong's book is her reporting (she was a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal in China). Fong meets Liang Zhongtang, who fruitlessly attempted to dissuade China's leaders from adopting the policy in the 1980s. She interviews people at adoption agencies that are suspected of seizing second children and selling them to Westerners. She sees Tough Pig, a boar that survived for 36 days without food or water under the rubble of a vast earthquake in Sichuan Province. The earthquake highlights how unexpected are the tragedies of China's population policy: Thousands of only children were killed when shoddily built schools collapsed, leaving their stricken parents childless — a disaster in a country where the importance of family has survived even the one-child restrictions. Unlike the earthquake, that policy was — and remains — an unnatural disaster.

方美凤这本书书最大的优点就在于她的报道(她曾是《华尔街时报》驻华记者)。她采访过梁中堂,后者在20世纪80年代曾经数次徒劳地劝说中国领导人放弃计划生育政策。她也曾采访过收养机构的人,他们被怀疑扣押二胎生育的孩子,并将这些孩子卖给西方人。她还见过"猪坚强",在四川省的一次大地震中,这头猪在没有饮食的情况下,在废墟底下活了36天并获救。这场地震表现出中国人口政策的悲剧是多么出人意料:数千名独生子女因为质量不合格的校园建筑坍塌而遇难,受灾的父母又失去了孩子——这个国家虽然实行独生子女政策,但家庭仍然是非常重要的,对于这些父母来说这实在是极大的灾难。和地震不同,这项政策及其残留下的影响,完全是一场人祸。

2016-06-22

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