“The Chosen”, “The Little Emperors of China”, “The Generation I”, call them what you will, the progeny of the “one child policy” are becoming a serious concern as the elders of this homogeneous group become they bring their deceased closer. 1920s in modern and prosperous China.
Controversy over this approach to population control has been widely reported, citing discrepancies in the jurisdictional interpretation and application of the issues of infanticide and selective abortion. There will also be a severe shortage of women for eligible men approaching marriageable age. This fact dispels the myth that the “missing girls” syndrome was the result of the lack of registration of female births and rather supports the notion of widespread female infanticide.
But when asked, if the CCP ever anticipated any of these problems, the spokespersons will suggest that they had thought about many of the consequences of the policy over time, but believed that general prosperity would provide measures to solve these problems. Ironically, prosperity and growth have not only been unable to provide solutions to the consequences of the policy, but have in fact exacerbated conditions.
The term “elected” is used here to indicate not only a very special group of individuals, but to emphasize that those future leaders of China will be selected from this one-child-and-family policy. What are their characteristics?
Widely described by both foreign observers and domestic critics, “they are pampered, self-centered, narrow-minded, and unable to accept criticism” (Yang Xiaosheng, Beijing Star Daily). They lack the social skills of their parents and, compared to their Western counterparts, they are such impetuous children that they demand what they want without regard for or worrying about any inconvenience their demands may cause to others. Each child, it is said, is cared for by an average of 7 people: mother; dad; uncles aunts and some combination of grandparents. And it is clear that boys are more favored than girls with an average of only 3 people dedicated to their care and attention.
To offer an example: In Qingdao, the co-host of the 2008 Olympics, Li Xue Mei is sitting at the local Starbucks nursing a ‘Vente Caramel Macchiato’ talking to three like-minded friends. They are all around 25 or 26 years old. They all have the newest and most expensive cell phones and two have their Macbooks open to WiFi websites. They are all self-employed but without clients. They have no marketing skills because they have never learned to network; nor have I needed it. If they don’t have their own car, they are waiting for one of their parents to pick them up or drop them some cash if they have decided to go to the nightlife.
They have all graduated from some kind of university, never having scored high enough to qualify for one of the best universities. Since the big push in the late 1990s, China has created more than 500 new universities and colleges. The entrance exam conducted by more than 9.5 million students in 2006 has many students in the bottom 50%. In fact, the standard rule of thumb is now: if you can’t get into the top 50% where you can get into a Chinese university … then plan to go abroad, usually to Vancouver, Canada, where you can enroll in some ESL Classes and pass the course hours not in class, but in nearby bistros, drinking latte and smoking Canadian cigarettes.
They complain about the unemployment rate, but cannot understand why so many graduates cannot find work. Unless their parents can find a connection for them so that they can work on something arranged for them, they will not be successful in finding work on their own.
In Beijing, Yuan Lin recently opened a motor club for the elite group of senior cadre boys in the CCP. He and his wife have borrowed the money without expecting to pay it back. The money lent was in payment for a service rendered to a businessman to make the bureaucratic mess in Beijing disappear. At parties and clubs they talk about complacency and money. Both earned high salaries working for high-level, well-funded national companies or joint ventures before going out on their own. Now they own an apartment, a car and have rented a country house for 20 years. They have a son, a boy. There is no talk of politics or democracy. Tiananmen Square is a vague historical episode that has no basis in everyday life and any talk about democracy is acceptable as long as it does not upset the status quo and surrenders to others if sacrifices have to be made.
This is the good life and you don’t want to give it up. It feeds on ultraconsumption that feeds on itself. There is unrest among the lowest and most disadvantaged people, but this is not an issue that concerns these groups of cities.
Last year there were several reports of farmers taking up arms against local corruption. The episodes were quelled and, in some cases, many protesters were killed or imprisoned and later tortured. Newspapers paid little attention to the events and the authorities did nothing to help farmers who may have had legitimate disputes with local government officials.
Last month, Beijing issued a law that bans height and dogs as pets. Many pet owners, outraged by the impudence, protested to the local government and angered the group of pet owners so much that President Hu Jintao personally intervened to repeal the law. The ruling party does not want to annoy the children of conspicuous consumption. This brings us to ‘the chosen ones’.
This generation, born after 1978-80, when the one-child policy was implemented, represents young entrepreneurs on the rise these days. At least those with connections are. And those with the best connections, that is, guanxi with CCP members in high positions, are those from whom the next generation of leaders will be chosen. Members of the ruling party are made up of about 100 ruling families. His children: the spoiled ones; the self-centered and narrow-minded will lead China in the future. They have never had to sacrifice; I have never required communication or negotiation skills, I have never faced confrontation. How will it go?
During the last XVII Congress, Hu Jintao declared that by 2020 the party will quadruple GDP. Where is the market? Certainly, the domestic market is limited for that kind of growth, as the gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening. Much of China’s growth is not due to innovation, but to production growth generated by systems such as the WTO (2202) and the Olympic Games (2008). China will not maintain its low-wage advantage for much longer with the industry looking to the Philippines and Vietnam, which have even lower wages. The United States may enter a period of recession in growth and the dollar will weaken further. Unemployment is growing among the well-educated and inflation driven by an unprecedented appreciation of real estate and a stock market that is 70% owned by the PLA shows no signs of abating.
The elect will inherit a precarious position in the ranks of prosperity. All nations have faced these conditions from time to time, but their leaders have had some experience in real-life circumstances: they have tasted defeat; they have experienced difficulties; they understand the range of social conditions that generate hope and the will to survive.
Members of the old guard are survivors of the liberation movement and the Cultural Revolution: the new guard will not have had such learning experiences and will need to seek help, which is their natural inclination. Who will the hand be extended to?