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What if Mama Has a New Baby? – A New Question Facing Chinese Kids

China has introduced its ‘two child policy’ in the fall of last year. Now that young couples have the option to have a second child, China’s young generations face a question that their parents did not face: what if mum has another baby? One company’s marketing campaign stirred a public debate on the issue.

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In October 2015, China introduced its new ‘two child policy‘, marking the end of China’s three-decade-long one-child policy. Now that young couples have the option to have a second child, China’s young generations face a question that their parents did not face: what if mum has another baby? One company’s marketing campaign has stirred an online public debate on the issue.

China’s ‘two-child policy‘, that was announced last autumn and went into effect on January 1st of this year, has triggered heated discussions about its demographic, economic, social, familial and personal implications. In 2011, it was already allowed for couples to have a second child if they were both an only child. In 2013, the policy was extended towards couples of whom one is an only child. The 2015 policy was the final step that brought the one-child-policy era to an end.

What does the new policy mean for children whose parents are planning to have a second baby? A video on Sina Weibo addresses this question, and has attracted more than 20 million views under the hashtag #a message to moms pregnant with a second baby (二胎妈妈被告白).

video

In the video, kids are asked what they think of having a younger brother or sister. Most kids do not seem to embrace the prospect too heartily: one girl says that her mom won’t love her anymore, and another child is doubtful of whether his mom is able to give birth to “so many kids”. Afterwards, the kids are told that their moms are indeed pregnant. Hearing the news, the kids express their disbelief. Some look really sad and try to hold the emotion back; one boy is even in tears. But at the end of the video, all kids eventually say they will love their moms all the same, if not even more, for her pregnancy.

boy

Some Weibo users express sympathy towards the disappointment and anxiety of the kids. One comment writes: “Even though parents love [their children] equally, their time and energy will still be divided into two. The first kid has enjoyed the full time and attention of the parents, and will surely feel disappointed when another kid suddenly comes”. Another comment reads: “I didn’t want a sibling when I was a kid, so I will not force it on my kid; we are all selfish.”

Advocates of having a second child argue that siblings are an advantage when growing up. When deciding to have another baby, they say, parents should communicate with their child and respect the child’s opinion.

There are also comments pointing out that discussions about siblings are actually somewhat absurd, since having a baby, as getting a sibling, is nothing but natural. It has only become “unnatural” and requires getting used to because of China’s three-decade-long one-child policy. Today’s children were born to parents who are strange to the idea of growing up with brothers and sisters, and who are used to full attention from parents. They were also born into a society influenced and shaped by its participants’ solitary process of growing up. It is within such social context that having siblings has become a point of discussion. In other words; the children in the video are only asked about their feelings about mum having another baby because the idea of having a brother or sister is so unfamiliar for their parents’ generation.

It yet remains to be seen whether or not the two-child policy will alleviate the problematic phenomenon of China’s “little princess” and “little emperors”. It will take another decade before the policy’s impact can be fruitfully discussed.

Although the video has generated much discussion, it was actually not meant to stir public debate – it was actually a commercial campaign by Shenzhou Zuche (神州租车), the biggest car-renting company in China (leasing and chauffeured). On March 16, Shenzhou and China’s Committee of Road Traffic Safety published a new regulation concerning safety issues in car-renting services for pregnant women.

According to China Economics, the number of pregnant women in 2016 is estimated to be 280 million. This ‘baby boom‘ is caused by two things; the introduction of the two-child policy and the Year of the Monkey, which is considered a good year to have a baby. Shenzhou therefore developed new rental services for pregnant women who are extra “vulnerable on the road”, according to Shenzhou CEO Wang Peiqiang (王培强). Cars with higher performance and comfort will be provided to pregnant women, with vomiting bags, pillows and prenatal education CDs. Shenzhou’s drivers are specially trained for basic medical aid, and the driving speed is restricted to under 60km/h.

– By Diandian Guo

Image caption reads: “finally there will be someone I can play with!”

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialized in China's cultural memory.

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China and Covid19

Fangcang Forever: China’s Temporary Covid19 Makeshift Hospitals To Become Permanent

China’s temporary ‘Fangcang’ shelter hospitals are here to stay.

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A new term has been added to China’s pandemic lexicon today: Permanent Fangcang Hospital. Although China’s ‘Fangcang’ shelter hospitals are, by definition, temporary, these healthcare facilities to isolate and treat Covid patients are now becoming a permanent feature of China’s Zero-Covid approach.

Over the past few days, Chinese authorities have emphasized the need for China’s bigger cities to build or renovate existing makeshift Covid hospitals, and turn them into permanent sites.

So-called ‘Fangcang hospitals’ (方舱医院, square cabin hospitals) are large, temporary makeshift shelter hospitals to isolate and treat Covid-19 patients. Fangcang shelter hospitals were first established in China during the Wuhan outbreak as a countermeasure to stop the spread of the virus.

January 5 2022, a Fangcang or Isolation Point with over 1000 separate isolations rooms is constructed in Baqiao District of Xi’an (Image via Renmin Shijue).

They have since become an important part of China’s management of the pandemic and the country’s Zero-Covid policy as a place to isolate and treat people who have tested positive for Covid-19, both asymptomatic and mild-to-moderate symptomatic cases. In this way, the Fangcang hospitals alleviate the pressure on (designated) hospitals, so that they have more beds for patients with serious or severe symptoms.

On May 5th, Chinese state media reported about an important top leadership meeting regarding China’s Covid-19 situation. In this meeting, the Politburo Standing Committee stressed that China would “unswervingly adhere to the general Zero-Covid policy” and that victory over the virus would come with persistence. At the meeting, chaired by Xi Jinping, the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee also declared that China would fight against any words or acts that “distort, doubt, or deny” the country’s dynamic Zero-Covid policy.

Life inside one of Shanghai’s Fangcang, photo via UDN.com.

Following the meeting, there have been multiple official reports and statements that provide a peek into China’s ‘zero Covid’ future.

On May 13, China’s National Health Commission called on all provinces to build or renovate city-level Fangcang hospitals, and to make sure they are equipped with electricity, ventilation systems, medical appliances, toilets, and washing facilities (Weibo hashtag ##以地级市为单位建设或者改造方舱医院#).

On May 16, the term ‘Permanent Fangcang Hospital’ (Weibo hashtag #永久性方舱医院) became a trending topic on Weibo after Ma Xiaowei (马晓伟), Minister of China’s National Health Commission, introduced the term in Qiushi (求是), the leading official theoretical journal of the Chinese Communist Party.

The term is new and is somewhat contradictory as a concept, since ‘Fangcang hospitals’ are actually defined by their temporary nature.

Ma Xiaowei stressed the need for Chinese bigger cities to be ready for the next stage of China’s Covid control. This also includes the need for some central ‘Fangcang’ makeshift hospitals to become permanent ones.

In order to ‘normalize’ the control and monitoring that comes with living in Zero-Covid society, Chinese provincial capitals and bigger cities (more than ten million inhabitants) should do more to improve Covid testing capacities and procedures. Ma proposes that there should be nucleic acid sample collection points across the city within a 15-minute walking distance radius, and testing frequency should be increased to maximize efficient control and prevention.

Cities should be prepared to take in patients for isolation and/or treatment at designated hospitals, centralized isolation sites, and the permanent Fangcang hospitals. The recent Covid outbreak in Shanghai showed that local authorities were unprepared to deal with the outbreak, and sites that were used as Fangcang hospitals often lacked proper facilities, leading to chaotic scenes.

A Fangcang Isolation Center in Quanzhou, March 2022, via People’s Daily.

The hashtag “Permanent Fangcang Hospitals” received over 140 million views on Weibo on Monday.

One of the Weibo threads by state media reporting on the Permanent Fangcang hospitals and the publication by Ma Xiaowei received nearly 2000 comments, yet the comment section only displayed three comments praising the newly announced measures, leaving out the other 1987 comments.

Elsewhere on Weibo, people shared their views on the Permanent Fangcang Hospitals, and most were not very positive – most commenters shared their worries about China’s Covid situation about the stringent measures being a never-ending story.

“We’re normalizing nucleic acid test, we’re introducing permanent fangcang hospitals, [but] why isn’t the third Covid vaccination coming through?” one person wondered.

“If there was still a little bit of passion inside me, it was just killed by reading these words ‘Permanent Fangcang Hospital,'” another commenter writes, with one Weibo user adding: “I feel desperate hearing the words ‘Permanent Fangcang Hospital.'”

“Building permanent Fangcang? Why? Why don’t you use the resources you’re now spending on normalizing testing to create more hospital beds, more medical staff and more medications?”

Another commenter wrote: “China itself is one giant permanent Fangcang hospital.”

“The forever Fangcang are being built,” one Weibo user from Guangdong writes: “This will never end. We’ll be locked up like birds in a cage for our entire life.”

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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Featured image via user tongtong [nickname] Weibo.com.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China and Covid19

‘Hard Isolation’ is Shanghai’s New Word of the Day

In line with a new ‘hard isolation’ measure, the entrances of some Shanghai residential buildings were fenced up.

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While some Shanghai households have already endured weeks of isolation, a new word was added to their epidemic vocabulary today: ‘hard isolation’ or ‘strong quarantine’ (yìng gélí 硬隔离)

The word popped up on Chinese social media on April 23rd after some Shanghai netizens posted photos of fences being set up around their community building to keep residents from walking out.

“New word: hard isolation. Shanghai is rotten to the core,” one commenter wrote.

The word soon turned into a hashtag page where people started commenting on the issue of fences being placed around residential buildings, voicing concerns on what a fence around buildings would mean for fire safety, especially after online rumors suggested that there had been a fire at one community in Pudong on Saturday night.

An official document regarding the ‘hard isolation’ measure was also shared online on Saturday. It is dated April 23, 2022, and its source is the Pudong New Area Office for Epidemic Control.

The document states that in line with the guidelines for the city’s epidemic prevention and control, the division between areas or zones that are in certain risk categories should be ‘optimized,’ with those in the high-risk category requiring a ‘hard isolation.’ Security guards should also be on duty 24 hours a day at the entrance of the buildings.

Earlier this month, Shanghai adopted “3-level control measures” after its initial phased lockdown. It means that local areas will be classified as “locked-down,” “controlled” or “precautionary,” based on their Covid19 risk.

“Could we also put fences around the homes of Shanghai leaders?”, one person suggested, while others posted images from the Walking Dead to mock the situation.

In the hope of Shanghai soon tackling the Covid situation, not everybody disagreed with the decision to fence some buildings or communities in the Pudong area: “I don’t disagree with it, as long as there is always someone there to open the fence in case of fire,” one person stated.

Although having a fence around their building is currently not a reality for most in Shanghai, the online photos of some communities seeing their buildings being fenced up is a reason to worry for some: “It’s been 40 days, and now they start hard isolation? This actually scares me. Before we know it, it’s June.”

One Weibo user asked: “Why is it possible to implement this hard isolation now? Was this created by the same persons who also implemented the rule to separate children from parents at isolation sites?”

“I truly can’t imagine why some people thought this is a good idea,” others wrote.

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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