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Date Posted: 21:31 07/09/2004

Evil old women take over Shanghai

The Chinese press talks about the population again.

The One Child Policy, one of China's most controversial edicts in recent years, seems to be thawing somewhat. In the countryside, after decades of village name-and-shame campaigns in which the procreative activities of all local peasants are recorded on public notice boards, not to mention the thousands of fines and forced sterilizations, the government has launched a pilot scheme where it pays money to encourage people in some regions to maintain propagation at a minimum. 210 million RMB has been earmarked to help certain poor families in the west who have had only girls, and have no one to work the farm.

The family planning notice board in a village in Hubei Province

It is, of course, part of the general plan to prevent peasant families from using ultrascans to determine the sex of their baby, or even dashing the brains out of their new-born daughters and abandoning them in the fields. The dramatic gender imbalance in the Chinese population has been receiving great attention in the local and international media, leading to breathless reports about the army of 30 million bachelors set to run riot in China in the near future, leading to high levels of prostitution, mail-order marriages and even wars.

The problem is somewhat different in Shanghai, where an increasingly aging population is set to overwhelm the dwindling workforce with medical costs, housing pressures and endless gripes about how things have changed for the worst and how the new generation doesn't have any manners. The possibility that the city will be dominated still further by the growing number of ancient, evil matriarchs is not a pleasant one to behold.

Experts gathering in China's most densely populated metropolis this week have predicted that by 2030, for every two people, there will be one old person clinging to them. Southern Daily reports that Shanghai will be a 'white-haired city' within three decades. In 2003, the average life expectancy in Shanghai was reportedly at 79.8 years, with women living to an average of 81.81 years. 18.98% of the city population is already over 60 years old. 14.87% are over 65, the report said.

Some have said that the big problem facing China is the imbalance of its population growth. While well-off cities like Shanghai will reach zero growth within a decade, increases will continue to be seen in provinces and regions in the west, where they are already struggling.

And so, lucky Shanghai residents will be able to produce even more spoilt, self-congratulatory little oiks, according to new regulations. The children of single children can now get married and have two children without any fear of legal reprisal.

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