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China ends one-child policy

Nothing profound here, but just an odd coincidence that yesterday -- the day before China announced the end of the once-child policy -- I was at a three-hour divisional presentation about the experience of international students on campus. Part of the presentation was a half hour documentary about international students at Michigan State University that focused on Chinese students, and somehow this was the first time it struck me what the one-child policy could mean emotionally and psychologically. There was a lot of stress put on the fact that the parents of Chinese students are sending their only child to a foreign country, and how much is riding on that single child, both hopes and fears. They also interviewed a Chinese student who had an older sister (her parents had paid a fee to have a second child), and she talked about how unusual that was amongst her peers and how antagonistic her relationship with her sister had been until she came to the US and got some distance from her. Of course the latter experience isn't all that unusual in families with multiple children, but I was struck by how unusual it seemed to her. It was probably something her friends had a hard time relating to.

It does make me wonder how much the experience of being a single child permeates Chinese popular culture. It seems like something that might be explored in Chinese films, and that makes me realize how little I've seen of mainland Chinese (as opposed to Hong Kong) cinema.

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