Li Jingkui explains that having children is very much an economic decision with hard choices involved, particularly for women. Research has shown that women’s chances of gaining employment after bearing their first child fall by 6.6%, and by another 9.3% after the second child. The government believes that an extended maternity leave policy will aid women and increase the nation’s fertility rate, but the reality may be much to the contrary.
Taiwan is set to become a super-aged society in 2025. At present, a considerable proportion of its elderly face poor living conditions, with 430,000 living in old residential buildings without elevator access. There is also a sizeable number of elderly folk who are homeless and living on the streets. What are the authorities doing to meet the living needs of the elderly and provide them with support? How are community groups playing a role?
Analysts predict that China will overtake the US as the world’s leading economy in the next decade, but external military conflicts and internal struggles could thwart the Asian giant's ambitions. Political commentator Zhou Nongjian has the details.
Demand for matchmaking services and platforms is on the rise for China’s growing elderly population. Though these people have plenty of life experience, it seems they still conform to the expectations of society, be it assessing a mate by monetary criteria or fearing gossip for seeking a second chance at love. Under the weight of societal norms, their quest for love is riddled with obstacles. On a lighter note, the plethora of elderly matchmaking variety shows that have spawned do provide some entertainment and fun for this segment of the population.
While some businessmen have good intentions in offering goods and services at lower prices, they could also be “spoiling the market” and making it harder for others to make a living. Such actions may invite backlash, whether in village scuffles, or writ large, protests and anti-dumping measures between countries. China, the world’s factory, has borne the brunt of such pushback. Industries in other countries are affected, as capital moves freely between borders but labour stays in place. Those who feel they are losing out may hold grudges and end up dealing a big blow to society.
Respect. Lorna Wei says the nub of the issue in the low fertility rate in China lies in that one word. Growing up in a patriarchal society, daughters in China have for years been looked upon as second to sons. When they become wives, mothers and daughters-in-law, they shoulder the bulk of familial duties while trying to keep their jobs. Any fertility policy should first address greater equality between the sexes. Only when parents are assured that their burdens will be shared can they look forward to having more children.
Han Dongping points out that the views of the rural population in China should be taken into account in the three-child policy or other population policies. They were the most affected group when the the one-child policy was implemented decades ago. The government made the mistake of not consulting them then, alienating their stronghold of support in the process. They should not make the mistake again.
Qiao Xinsheng points out that one should not have any expectations about the globalisation of the job market. In the internet economy era, even though internet platform companies facilitate capital’s global search for talent, this has not improved labour’s freedom of movement in search of better job opportunities. Cheap labour will continue to be exploited through the long arms of overseas capital. Not only that, with these companies' technology-enabled capabilities to collect massive amounts of data, national security will be a concern.
In this photo series, Hisham Youssef captures unexpected parallels between the countryside in China and Italy. Different cultures and many miles apart, the similarities are uncanny.