VACAS: Delegation From China Presents Research on the Chinese Government’s Family Planning Policy

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By Jeremy Moser | jmoser9@radford.edu

Four communications scholars from Chongqing, China came to Radford University to present their research about different forms of Chinese media at VACAS.

Their panel was part of the Virginia Association of Communications Arts and Sciences conference that Radford hosted Mar. 29-30.

Jianping He, Juan Liu, Xiaoping Luo, and Zhizhong Zhang are professors at the Southwest University of Political Science & Law in China. Their School of Journalism and Communications has over 1,100 graduate and undergraduate students combined.

Family Planning Research

Even with the expansion of the child limit now to two children, He and Liu said that one of the population concerns raised is the still lowered birth rate. Even granted the freedom to have two children, many women say they are happy with one.He and Liu presented an analysis of the coverage related to the Chinese government’s Family Planning Policy in the government-owned Chinese newspaper, People’s Daily.

He and Liu explained the family planning policy for those unfamiliar. Having a long history in China, starting back in 1979, the Chinese Government introduced a blanket policy banning parents from having more than one child.

A few years later, the policy was expanded to what He and Liu referred to as a “1.5” child policy which allowed for certain exceptions. Some parents were able to apply for another child. Also, if a couple’s firstborn were a girl, they would be allowed to try for a boy. In 2015, the policy was updated into a universal “two-child policy.”

(Left to Right) Jianping He and Jaun Liu presenting.

The start of the policy was a response to rapid overpopulation in the decades after the Second World War. According to Business Insider, families were encouraged to have as many children as possible to strengthen the economy.

He and Liu said they chose People’s Daily because it is the largest state-owned newspaper in the country. They searched for all stories containing “family planning,” and categorized coverage based on what type of criticisms if any, that were about the policy in the government-owned publication.

Reporters Without Borders ranked China 176 out of 180 countries in their World Press Freedom index in 2018; the only countries placed lower are three Islamic countries and North Korea.

What He and Liu found is the coverage of the policy manifested in five distinct “stages,” which ranged from full support of the policy, to talking about China’s significant population problems that have risen from the implementation of the policy.

According to an NPR interview with Mei Fong, author of the book “One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment,” China is now facing significant population and demographic problems and will be facing more in the future.

Because of the “1.5” policy allowing for a second child, should the first child be a girl, there are 30 million more men than women living in China. These men, called Guang guan, which means ‘broken branches,’ are unable to find wives, as there is not an even ratio between men and women in the country.

The aging population is set to propose a different challenge; soon there will not be enough young workers to support the aging population.

Even with the expansion of the child limit now to two children, He and Liu said that one of the population concerns raised is the still lowered birth rate. Even granted the freedom to have two children, many women say they are happy with one.

The Trip Here

Liu said that Radford’s campus “Impressed us a lot,” and that she “found the students quite satisfied being here.”The Tartan was able to get an interview with the four professors to learn more about their trip coming to Radford.

A lot went into planning their visit; before being able to travel overseas, the group had to be approved by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. They needed both business and personal passports, and they needed to get visas from the US Embassy in China. It took three months to plan the trip and get it approved.

Jaun Liu presenting.

In their time here, they visited the Blue Ridge Parkway and led an Intercultural Studies class where they introduced students to Chinese culture.

They also said their visit was key to establishing a collaboration between Radford University and Southwest University. There is no official statement from the university about this yet.

Liu did much of the talking during the interview, while Dr. Shou Yao, Associate Professor at Radford University’s School of Communication, was able to help translate.

Liu said that Radford’s campus “Impressed us a lot,” and that she “found the students quite satisfied being here.”

They each explained just how different the two universities are, just by the sheer numbers their university has over 26,000 students.

Nevertheless, they enjoyed their visit and appreciated the campus and the student body.

Liu finished by stating, “This is the reason we want to establish the collaboration between these two universities.”

Photo Credit: (Tyler Martin | The Tartan – Featured image is of Zhizhong Zhang presenting)