tv After Words CSPAN January 17, 2016 9:00pm-10:01pm EST
then we will close. >> so, initially it was explicitly understood by those women who started as a pushback against the medicalization of childbirth and infant feeding. they were responding against doctors who were telling them that they have to formulate feed their babies and they had to formula feed a particular amount in every feeding, but they have to feed him a four hour schedule, so it was very regimented, childbirth and pregnancy and feeding were all extremely regimented and they were things that were regimented
by male doctors and decided was absolutely a pushback against the medicalization of the female body and things that ought properly to be the purview and responsibility of mothers and women. so, there is that history to it and a lot of people are firmly embedded in the history. that history has not disappeared. that is one of the reasons why so many people are committed to breast-feeding but the point i am trying to make in my book is that we have swung the other direction so there were perfectly reasonable commitments and instincts that were pro- woman and nature and anti-medicalization and then now , breast-feeding advocates are relying on medical science
and doctors to push their agenda. so it's swung too far in the other direction and i think you are making the same point when you say the problem is capitalism and the matriarchy. but in fact it's because we have discrimination in the workplace, and it's because women's voices aren't heard so absolutely there are bigger problems in the world. >> so this was the worst problem. [laughter] [applause]
achievement. i enjoyed it immensely and it is the subject of a lot of discussion among the analysts as you know. the book is called "one child the story of china's most radical experiment and in a minute we will talk about why you chose the subject and went about answering some of the questions on your mind but first i think it would be helpful to define what it is we are talking about. so what is the one child policy? >> the one child policy is a bit of a misnomer it is just a name that we use to describe a set of rules and restrictions to regulate. you could call it 1.5 for a long time and now of course they moved it to a two child policy but in reality, it needs more regulation. >> host: so it is a basket of policies.
when did it happen and go into affect? >> 1979 and some people collect 1980 when the communist party sent out an open letter because they think we are advising everybody to move to a one child family. it was advised that it was telling. >> people imagine this is the kind of policy that would have gone into effect but you're saying that it went under effect. what was going on in china that was so important that people imagine they needed this idea policy like this? the >> mao had just passed away. people were very poor and at the time the population was growing so there was a significant worry that china was going to overwhelm the shores and they
needed to do something. >> host: you compared the one child policy to a crash diet and said the one child policy had begun for reasons that have merit. what was the original rationale that they thought that it would still be on. how did they think they were going to accomplish its? the >> for economic reasons, china was somewhat a very poor and all of the new leadership had basically razing china economically and they had set in place the target for a thousand u.s. dollars gdp per capita by the year 2000 and so the goal the planners figured out this wasn't going to work in the population growth rate and they needed to move to a one child per family household to accomplish it. it's kind of like a productivity
over the numbers of mouth so they figured out it was a lot easier to control the numbers as well so that's where they were going forth. but china was already moving its population and they already had a family population policy in place that was much less coercive so it was a -- >> host: greater, longer and fewer. it was before the one child policy and during the period of time so that was pretty successful and a lot of the experts argued they should have kept going at that rate, but if they had done that there would be the population without any of these in the one child policy and gendered. he was the head of a group of
scientists who drew up the one child policy and what is interesting about them and a lot of people don't know is basically the one child policy was grown a rocket scientists who basically didn't have a lot of training in sociality demography or any of the things we would imagine in the population policy. >> host: so why were rocket scientists designing this one in the demography policy? >> guest: this is coming up the cultural revolution. most of the intelligence the intelligentsia economist of sociologists, they were all devalued and suffered through the culture and we have no political capital. most had computers to work out these complex calculations that were needed for the demography. so the only sort of group of academics and experts were the
missile defense, so they had all the capitol and all the resources and they also had the kind of bold thinking because they had been criticized to sort of say we can do this and this is how we are going to do it. it's a kind of thought of it like a missile trajectory and women's fertility that could be adjusted up and down like flipping a switch. >> host: so the training told them you could tune the process and in invective that in fact about me than a mismatch for what they were trying to do. >> there was no input in there from the economists that they wanted to shed some issues of how human behavior could shape such. it isn't rocket science to think a nation is so in love with sons when they restricted to one child to have more and therefore it's good to come up and you
will have more men than women so it's not rocket science. >> host: have others others tried anything like this most radical experiment? they tried to limit the population in ways quite >> the whole population was a major concern for the countries. this was the time when the zero population growth movement came in and the un funding population. all of these were concerns. mit basically had some scenarios where we would run out of resources so china wasn't the only one by far but took the most drastic expense and in the program they have a forcible sterilization program and for that both had received gold medals in the un. >> host: what does the rest of
the world think it sounds like you just mentioned it sounds like the rest of the world didn't imagine the negative consequences that would come about. >> i think it bothered the world still doesn't recognize the negative consequence. first there was support for the idea because there were concerns that we would overwhelm the planet. so it's like good for them if that means i can run my washer and try your and consumed more with a relatively easy sense of mind so mind so for a long time they maintained their population policy was being run without coercion. how could you possibly implement so if you could something it could something so unpopular without some coercion involved and therefore for a long time that was the belief for a lot of people. they either didn't know or didn't want to know so you have a lot of people speaking out in favor of the policy and in the course of the book, still to
this day the entire mentalists concerned about climate change who still say we should have something like a universal one child policy. >> host: but you write in one year alone 1983 china stabilized over 20 million people more than the combined population of the three largest u.s. cities, new york, los angeles and chicago and in addition to sterilization, did china due to enforce the policy? this panic is for a lot of reasons people may not necessarily have minded having one child but they didn't mind the interest of the state so in order to make it work basically they needed a variety so sterilization was one. they didn't trust the people would use contraception on their own so they insisted in many cases that you have to be sterilized like it or not. >> and this was from the beginning.
>> they were ideas that you couldn't remove yourself and then there's forced abortions of course. although theoretically i think after six months they were illegal. it wasn't carried out in many cases even in 2012 where we have the issue. >> host: talk about her for a second. who is she and why did she become prominent? >> guest: she was a woman who from the countryside they have had a daughter first and then she was pregnant with her second child and she had the lead or had hoped the second child )-close-paren double. they had been working in the cities and they were migrant workers but the household registration and the family officials came to her and said you can't have this child if you want a second child you should have to pay a fine and it was something like 6,000 u.s.
dollars and something they couldn't afford so they tried negotiating and there was a constant back and forth. she was trying to evade family officials until she carried to full term because she was running the risk. when it came out to seven months they took her away with a pillow case over her head and they took her to a hospital and forcibly injected her with something that caused her to prematurity deliver the fetus. we wouldn't have known about this but because there was social media what happened in her case was a relative had come to visit her in the hospital and she was lying there in the bed with a fully formed fetus right next to her and they snapped a picture and send it and it went viral in china and brought forth the human face of the one child policy. >> i remembered it was the intersection, it felt like the intersection between the technological change and
economic changes and what was a political policy that had been adopted in a difficult period and was out of step with the lives people were living so you had somebody you have somebody that's not had somebody that have an iphone wired to the rest of the world and found themselves captives of this policy that was in its own way a relic. so did the case actually have any impact on the policy or do we not know? >> guest: i think it had an impact in terms of raising public awareness. for a long time before that, there was the sense that the policy wasn't so significant anymore but yes there were some issues of the forced abortions and these were part of the recent past and then china was in an upward swing and was going to hold the olympics and was going so well it just wasn't that big of an issue especially since people were in private sector jobs and could afford to pay a fine or get around it and they were moving around in different cities and it was easy
to decode the protection. so maybe it didn't matter any matter anymore but then that case brought forth the sense that yes, these things are still happening. >> host: how many people are subject to the one child policy. >> is a basket policy that we agree so it is about one third of all chinese households restricted to the district one child policy. the rest have a slightly more fluid restriction and still do. but in the cases you could have a second child if your first one is a girl so that is still a restriction you just can't wholeheartedly fight whatever you want. then you could maybe have a second child if you were in a dangerous profession like if you were a coalminer or fisherman you could have a second child. people may have seen the headlines. what happened and what was preserved and discarded?
>> guest: they announced they were going to move to a nation while it to the -- nationwide policy policy of the wood stove to get a birth permit and so it was a bigger playpen if you like it. >> host: but they still intervened very directly in peoples lives of the choices they make. >> guest: you'd have you would have to get a birth permit and if you are a single mother it is impossible to get a registration >> host: i want to talk about how you got interested in the subject if you can you write in in the book i'm the youngest of five daughters all conceived in hopes of a son that never was. where did you grow up? >> guest: i am melasia. my parents migrated to melasia
but actually we didn't have anything like the cultural revolution to shape our thinking. in my family's case, my father was himself won six out of 18 and that's just counting the boys by the way. my grandfather was a rich man and had three wives. he was the 16th from the third wife. >> host: or is that in malaysia? >> guest: malaysia. did it loom in the family story or was this a distant place? >> guest: it was always there in the cultural traditions. if i did something wrong i would be made instead of my ancestral holding my years, traditional punishment and also because we
were five daughters anytime we showed up at a gathering they would say you should be glad you were not born in china or cuba to be put in a village and give it away and it wouldn't exist. >> host: you write my father never ceased his lack of a son or reminded his daughters they were lying abilities not affect. does he mean that in financial terms? >> guest: yes, he was an auditor. we were going of the fact he wasn't going to spend a lot of money to send us to college or to be beyond a certain level. >> host: did he pay for your college education? >> guest: no went to college on my own and paid for it with scholarships and things. >> host: by that point did you know you wanted to be a writer? >> guest: i sort of did.
when i was 16-years-old, i won a competition -- >> host: a writing competition? >> guest: it was the british colonies and i worked on an incredibly boring and i can't even remember about the offshoot of that was i was invited to meet the queen of england. she happened to be in malaysia for some meeting and this is the most exciting thing that ever happened to me before. for my father this is the first time he thought maybe she is an asset. >> host: so you decided to become a journalist at some point and you had already paid for your own college education and then use that i want to
figure out a way to get a signed to china or what was the path that led you there? >> guest: i had a scholarship from a local paper company so my first job was working at a tabloid and they would send us out to interview the polls. i felt there was more to journalism than this. the same questions were generic but i wasn't sure. i didn't think that the path was going to be in china. i thought maybe i would be an indonesian correspondent. but it seemed to be too close. it was those that would be in another setting that we were lucky enough to be going someplace else because my grandparents have migrated. it was full of stories.
it was too close. but somehow my path led me there right in the midst of that is how it started. >> host: and then when? >> guest: i was reporting about manufacturing basically. >> host: you and your husband is a scholar at the university you are in beijing for how many years? >> guest: postcode period based on what you described your already getting interested in the subject of the one child policy. we will talk in a moment about the moment that really galvanized that the did you begin to see it around you? >> guest: i was seeing the effects of hong kong in 2003 i
was going down to the factories in china that was basically the factory of the world. it was fascinating but right about around 2003 i started to hear from factory owners who said we can't get workers. it's a great difficulty and i said how could you be having difficulty china is the most populous nation and so i talked to a lot of economists about what kind of years they had and even when they said made the episode on title policy but then there was the sense that it was too soon it was a short-term economic issue but that was the beginning of when it would have been. >> host: something happened that made you focus in a new way on the one child policy. >> guest: it's a wonderful way to view china in a lot of ways
is a rising nation and the big money going to the olympic sponsorships. it was wonderful. but they sort of the failed at the full story so at a time when it happened i was actually in a border of myanmar. >> host: some people government of the earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people that was the largest they had and at the time you happened to be covering you were down -- >> guest: i was trying to sneak to me and mark -- sneaked into myanmar. but they didn't let in any journalists and so i was frustrated i couldn't get in. so then i flew back to beijing unaware china was having its own natural disaster.
when i landed and turned on my blackberry it was like oh no. i felt like i had missed the story and i had flown back to early. there must be ways to skin a cat and the host of the guestworkers were like china's appellation it's very poorer and a lot of people go to other parts so there must be a lot of people in beijing so what if i followed a group of them and so i followed a group of construction workers.com for the trains and bikes and boats and it was a very sad journey because at the end of it all most of them
discovered the families have been killed. >> host: for people that may not know at the time the earthquake was a difficult place to do reporting and they had taken steps to try to make it to manage the story affect to try to control the narrative that was going to make it out to the rest of the world. so when you got there one of the things you discovered was that there were a lot of families that were -- that have lost their one child is that right? >> guest: they found in the area at the epicenter that had a test pilot. before a committee to, they took it nationwide in the late 1970s. so it was very coercive and profit than brought up in the results and that had actually given the kind of heart and inspiration to take an issue to say we can do this for the rest of china but of course consequentially years earlier the end result was very tragic for the families.
one of the first and earliest stories was about all the families who in a matter of weeks were rushing on to reverse in the sterilization process to undergo. >> host: there is a term if there's ever been a term it's probably this one which is -- can you talk about what that means? >> guest: it's a term that means the parents who've lost their only child. it's a phenomenon that started from the earthquake. there's about a million now by some estimates and up estimates and up above 76,000 have been joining them dearly. what makes them different is they have consistently tried to lobby beijing for more benefits because the argument is look,
losing a child in this context in many cases is due to economic security and the social safety net to compensate. family is still important so when you lose your only child frequently that's just a pure economic sense. do people rally around for those that have lost their only child, does it become a kind of sympathy or do people say something else? >> guest: there's a there is a sense of stigma in some cases.
it was in the totem pole despite this idea it's not fully considered. when you lose a parent with status you lose many things along the way. >> host: one of the things interesting to me when you talk to the one china policy. you have the cases of coercion and everything else. what do you make of that view and also i should say it's always per list to describe the attitudes broadly and how do they feel about things. guess what they do support the off-site.
>> guest: i looked into that question and it was bound to the one question people ask. it was very nuanced and there is room. a lot of people did support the idea of reducing population because if you ever lived in china and had to use the subway in rush hour. if you do support it i think that as a matter of fact it's kind of sad that they squandered this kind of goodwill that people had by channeling such a painful course to reduce the population but i don't think
they wanted the sterilization of course. >> host: they do face the question of what is our place as a foreign writer and the have the right adobe have the right and responsibility to criticize the policies in china there is the view china has its own place they should govern by their own rules. >> guest: certainly someone with chinese family we have have in our sympathy for the idea of yes we should grow economically. to go from bicycle aspiration to a bmw, good for them. i would be all for it.
but the problem was they didn't really have that much of the economic growth for the last few years. >> host: politically published in mainland china? >> guest: when i signed up the contract i did receive an offer. they wanted to buy the rights and published the book but reserve the rights to alter anything that was sensitive. i don't know what you consider sensitive, let's offer until i finished the book. in the intervening plaintiff was the offer off the table. i would like to feel the book out there somewhere. >> host: perhaps taiwan is also optional. when did the government began to realize it needed to change the one child policy? >> guest: about 15 years ago a group of sociologists and demographers started to collect
to move to a demographic disaster they found obese members that both of the rates have plunged faster than people thought and they found all these issues of gender imbalance for the party. it was the ever delayed for -- it was never meant to last forever and then we will change it to something else. so they were lobbying to say let's do this faster. the communist party dragged its heels when they made this change
and now people say it is too little and too late. >> host: database table, that is not consistent in the kind of political language that we are using so let's put this aside, how did they respond? >> guest: it was a huge amount of resistance and structural problems because the one child policy has created this to enforce the huge system. this trickled all the way down to the small provinces and for something so complex as peoples sex lives, you have to have into its workings. they had thrived in the collection of fines that they collected from people so do this
mantle debate could dismantle was something that was going to be painful, so i don't think it was an argument about the demographic problems that were being caused. it's more the issue of how do we take it down. >> host: you right in right in the book china is confronting a population that is too old and few. which of these is the most serious problem? >> guest: i think too old because that is definitely happening. china has now i think by 2015 china will have one in every four chinese. if they were to form their own country it would be the largest country. that doesn't have anything to do with the one child policy. it's the big population growth of the cohort that they were
basically just living longer. but the problem of the policy has as it reduces the working population that you need to support. that's the big issue. unless there is a war or something, people are going to grow older and it's definitely happening. some of the other problems this could result in, some of the speculation we don't know for sure. we definitely know that this big group of elderly people are going to age and we don't it's going to raise a lot of issues for china. >> host: it's beginning to slow down after that growth. if is any of that related to the policy? >> guest: one of the problems was as an export led economy manufacturing and that was powered by cheap labor and now
of course that abundance has gone down. there are fewer workers and they want to get paid more. so the transition is more to the consumer but then you have a problem because now you have a huge aging population and consumers don't spend that much. they don't buy the latest cell phones or cars and in the particular case a safe and also one of the things in the book, the attempt to transition to this and have a huge nation out retirees is going to be as helpful in repelling northern invaders. >> host: i've been to places for instance i went to a school that used to be kindergarten. there is just now not enough
small kids. do you get the sense is there a way to predict what the economic effects will be down the line? >> guest: japan is one example and certainly japan's economy for a variety of reasons but one of them is the fact that age demographic. in china's case it's hard to say that the population would be by far much larger than japan. it would be much richer at this juncture so that's going to be harder, to back. so many things like hospice and everything else is far less developed survey of about 50 years to transition to the aging economy into china has done it in half the amount of time.
they call it the male youth bulge. they will be more aggressive militarily and that could be a problem but in many reasons they could be more aggressive. but as you can see in china they have a bigger gender in balance for males and females and there is an uptick in the crime rate and economists have been on the workout for the gender imbalance. >> host: what is china trying to do about it or is the ball over the -- >> guest: the movie is sort of duty and courage to have more children and hopefully down the line this will reduce things but
they take time to grow and that is assuming they come about at all so we will not see any kind of a deviation of god. i just read recently china was trying to incorporate them to come back. i don't know that that's going to be any big success or take up to that. not going to be the kind of women that mary. >> host: so there is a mismatch because you have the women in the city that are now gaining more education but then there are these men in the countryside known as the branch.
>> host: >> guest: if you were born in the city and didn't have any siblings to compete with you your chances of getting better fed and better educated compared to any other but it's argued now you are living in a society where there were much fewer women than men. if you take the traditional economic terms that should mean you have the upper hand and power but china is a very paternalistic societies which suggests i think that there would be more pressure and the women may also be seen -- we see a rising mistress culture and hardly any women at the top levels of chinese democracies. so i don't see that happening. >> host: why do you think it's not happening because you are right the rules of supply and demand would value women going up. what do you think is at work
they're? >> guest: it's hard to uproot the age-old century's culture so on a personal level of course we can all name the high achieving chinese women but the structure itself is still very male centric. for example, china only recently passed the first domestic violence law and now there still was issues that structured the inheritance for the male lions that favored the registration of property for men over women so all these things are built and when they change how the glass ceiling or bamboo ceiling or whatever. >> host: at what point can the government try to undo some of the economic, political and demographic effects of the one child policy? >> guest: they will probably raise to the retirement age. you can retire as early as 50-years-old.
that's the best i've heard of in many parts of the world than it is very unpopular in the personal level that's going to happen. they've definitely tried to build up their social service safety nets as fast as they can and they've made great inroads but it's still not enough by far. >> host: when you look at the legacy of the policy is there anything that makes you say this was a good thing, this part of it was a good thing? >> guest: i think that was a good thing was with came before that. china starts off in the path of a lot of people but the problem is we tend to confuse the one child policy that it needed to be done with that there was no other alternative but really it was more of a graduated process. china started off doing the things that countries tried to the population growth making more contraceptives available and also encouraging more equal
to these were all good things along the way that somewhere in the path, they decided that they needed to really juice up it up economically and take this very extreme sort of approach and that's when it all went. >> host: and this has been a hallmark of the last 60 years or so the idea you take something that good on its face the valuable but if you turn it into a great leap policy. >> host: >> guest: at this great radical thing and we will be on top three at >> host: one of the things that's interesting is you looked at the fact that after all now they have begun to change the policy to what is known as a two child policy yet people are not rushing out the next day having that second child. what's going on and how many people are taking advantage of the policy? >> guest: china has been kind of easing the policy for a while so about two years ago before they announced the policy they
announced a variation of it with what they called a an exception that if one of the couple as a single child you could have a second child into the take-up was less than 15% of eligible couples so i think people extrapolate from the two child policy will be very similar. when you look back at all those reasons and the public opinions that said we can't support a second child for the cost or they are too expensive. but also the one child policy has become successful in that sense it changed the mindset of the chinese family of what is considered the best kind of chinese family now for many people the concept is one child because we are going to give everything that is best to that one child. >> host: invest in that one -- >> guest: the economic advantages live in having one child. >> host: one of the things you looked at is that ten or 15
years ago people talked about the rise of the little emperors. these were the one child who had been the object of all of the attention from two parents and grandparents and face are we going to get a generation of spoiled kids. what happened? >> guest: he grew up. he or she, they all grew up. their parents around their 50s and 60s, grandparents and their 80s and 90s and that little child that was the object of all of this wonderful expectation and love is going to have to give back in sixfold. because before-to-1 structure. so that sense of the little emperor becoming a little slave i think is happening more because people -- china has like 25% of the world's parkinson's sufferers and doubled up to 60% in the treks across the board for the adventure and everything else that afflicts age.
can you imagine that one child, how they would have a financial issue in some cases. in the western world we know how it is to care for aging parents and in the emotional sense of the demands you have can you imagine having to shuttle between two, three, four adults? >> guest: >> host: i have a lot of chinese friends who talk about this fall the burden of trying to support their parents or by couple is really extraordinary and unique. >> guest: it also has the position for more children in many cases some of my friends say i don't want to have a second child because i don't know whether i can take care of my parents and grandparents and -- i cannot in good conscience of a larger family of children. >> host: but his rookie of course chinese families were large. i think you said it was your grandfather who was one of 16 kids. do you think china will go back in the direction of large families or do you think there will be a sort of cultural
overhang that will go on for for longtime? >> guest: i don't see how they can. urbanization has come down so so many people are in the cities now for the first time in history. the balance is more in favor of urban versus rural. so where will all of these large families live together? it was different on the farm you just opened up another room and bingo it takes care of the extra children. what will you do especially with a soaring housing prices and -- >> guest: have others try to copy with china did when it comes to the population management policy, the one child policy? >> guest: there was a large amount of propaganda in the extreme of the one child policy that there was the propaganda going to the fact you should be selfish or crazy -- i was in malaysia and in singapore and its tiny but they also had propaganda campaigns and i remember seeing pictures where you would have a loaf of bread
and many hands reaching for it and that was their campaign. many countries didn't do it but one of them went that extreme route. most of them now are at the issue of the declining population. dave and various degrees tried to turn on with no success. >> host: one of the women he beat coke interesting elements is that you got pregnant in the course of working as a journalist in china. talk about that experience and how the experience and how did that shapes your sense of the issue and what was your experience? >> guest: i have a syndrome that basically is a leading cause of infertility. for longtime i wasn't sure if i was going to have children or wanted children or could have them. when the earthquake happened i was 36. i didn't know and i was on the fence but i was also aware that time was running out and i wouldn't have the luxury of choice very soon.
when the earthquake happened and i was following parents to the end of their journeys i didn't realize at the time that i was myself pregnant and i didn't know it so when i went back to beijing and i was feeling really tired and depressed i thought it was because of the the stories but then i tested and went for the scam and suddenly i could see. i tried to be restrained about it but it's hard when you see the scam and the heart beating it's hard not to get attached and at that point you're like i'm writing about people who lost their children and i'm pregnant. this is very strange. you understand some of the polls and ties and why people want children. and then i had a miscarriage. and this happened before the olympics come on the eve of the olympics as of again i was devastated by that. i tried to work my way through it and then after coming later on i had ideas in beijing and it's a very strange process.
i discovered there's a whole class of people who don't are using in vitro fertilization and technologies to try to get around the one child policy. one were trying to get multiples so they wouldn't lose their jobs as government officials. >> host: they were doing multiples because they were getting one shot at it. >> guest: if you get when that is counted as a single birth. i met a woman who was a teacher and said she had two children she would lose her job so she was deliberately going for in vitro fertilization and people would take all sorts of fertility drugs for the same thing. and there were just some places they had the twins. people could register their second child as a twin if your point was together and some would have it huge percentage of feet twins. people were trying to get around the policy. over all these ingenious ways and so the interesting part of this was basically when
technology allows you something policy does not, then it is a strange theory coming in. >> host: people began to improvise. so this really gives you access to the world most people would never see. as a writer that was enormously important. >> guest: i felt a little hesitant about writing all of this because here's the thing. the right in the world of policy and economics. there is miscarriage is and bbs but there's also some messy. i had editors have basically said we are not sure we want to hear this. what is all this stuff? were talking about policies and i thought you can't possibly be writing about something as intimate as this without leaving in some of this because at the heart of it is a story about families. >> host: you have twins now your self and i imagine that it changes the way you look at the subject.
>> guest: yes. now when we hear all these stories about chinese people not wanting to have a second child or waiting out the costs and the differences that go to it i certainly understand having children is a freedom. i am not a roaming correspondent anymore and that's one of the reasons why. so, on a personal level, many families in china are making these decisions. >> host: i can't let you go today without talking about with on a lot of peoples people's minds and that's the chinese economy. all straight three journal for longtime when you look at what is happening to use the country that is on the precipice of an economic transformation, the hard landing as they say or do you see a place that is doing something else? >> guest: i definitely see china and a much more challenging place economically. in the past there was low hanging fruit.
they had just come out of the cultural revolution and were poor. so they were moving people from the countryside taking advantage of this cheap labor. that was all easy to do so they were very quick and rapid and now this is the hard part, the things they have to do to keep the growth. they have to do a lot more with a lot less people. you have to increase the productivity. what are they spending in the right way on education at all these things? the chinese universities are pretty bad. that's why we see such a huge flood of graduate students in the american institutions. the reason why we have thus marked the need for smart graduates is because of the natural talent. so, i don't see a very hopeful picture going ahead. i don't know that they make for the vibrant societies economically and that is an issue that china is going to
have to face. >> host: one of the other things they will face is what does it mean to have a more powerful china in asia and what does it mean also for southeast asia you have family in malaysia. how did other people on the perimeter of china's world, help did they regard the rise, do they embrace it or find it somehow threatening? what is your sense of that? >> guest: they increased it, but now they are looking at it with great nervousness because it is much more aggressive. so, you can't help but wonder what's going to happen. and also, the chinese policies are dictating now i want more of what all of these others have to do. so it is a lot of tiptoeing around. >> host: do you get the sense that this is about your experience as a writer and there's a lot of pressure, did you encounter any obstacles in the reporting of this book?
>> guest: initially when i was in places like that, i had been on one occasion detained for a while. there was another occasion the public security chased my car. but i'm fortunate because i have a foreign passport. that protected me and i wish i could say the same for some of the other activists and writers that have tried to explore these issues and are now behind bars. >> host: you spent a lot of time in the united states and also of course in asia. one of the interesting puzzles we face is what's going to happen in the relationship between the united states and china. for a long time i think a lot of us presumably would, because of technology and the march of time, become more like each other. do you think that's true, and if it's not, what is happening do you think today? >> guest: i think because china is rising, almost by natural course this relationship
is great to get more fractious. the u.s. is used to being the supreme power for a long time and it's going to have to make room for the second one if you want to use the one child analogy the child is used to to begin the only child and all of the issues that come with it. but that's it. if we talk about the one child policy as a purely chinese and the domestic issue, the manner is also affecting americans. there've been over 120,000 children adopted from china and out of that about 70% are in american households. we have, for example, given a limited asylum to the seekers of the one child policy. we have children in the beneficiaries of the one child policy filling the universities and colleges and so it is a relationship that's both mutual, public systems but also like
siblings quarreling and there will be more coming up. >> host: do you think you'll go back to do more writing this >> guest: i don't know if they will let me and i would like to. >> host: you don't have plans to publish on the mainland. do you plan to publish in chinese and taiwan and elsewhere? >> guest: i would like to. >> host: mei fong, thank you for talking to us about "one child," and congratulations on the. >> ..