Is China Looking to Singapore for Lessons in Filial Piety?

A balloon seller in Chongqing
An elderly balloon seller in Chongqing

Who would have thought that passing assertive laws that forced the majority of a population to bear no more than one child would have harmful effects on a society? Well, it’s starting to happen in China as the coevals of America’s “baby boomers” (engendered by Mao’s well thought-out policy of “人多好办事,” or “more people gets the job done”) are beginning to age with only one son or daughter to care for them.

published a story with GlobalPost about a law that China is contemplating passing in order to counter the lack of filial children its modern landscape has breed. What didn’t make it into this article is the fact that China is not the first country in Asia to take legislative action to protect aging parents. (And the stressed health-care system they create.)

Back in 1995, Singapore passed a similar bill known as the Maintenance of Parents Act. It would seem, not for the first time, that China is taking a page out of the Singaporean Authoritarian Handbook. After all, Singapore represents a lot of things that China’s leaders would envy. It is a wealthy, conservative state that suppresses descent efficiently while keeping the streets clean and safe and, most importantly, maintaing a robust economy. So what can we expect if China decides to apply Singaporean polices with Chinese characteristics? The end to chewing gum, perhaps? Well, let’s not go that far just yet.

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