China Abandons One-Child Policy

Today, China abandoned its 35 year-old one-child policy. 

Based on the now debunked threat of overpopulation that was popularized by Stanford University scholar Paul Ehrlich, the communist government subjected the Chinese people to forced sterilizations and abortions. Many new-born babies were either killed or left to die. 

Today, the Chinese population suffers from a dangerous gender imbalance that favors boys over girls at a ratio of 117:100, and a demographic implosion that threatens future economic growth and prosperity. 

The one-child policy is a reminder of what happens when governments are allowed to interfere in deeply personal decisions of individual citizens and their families.


Today is the 27th anniversary of Tank Man’s bold act of civil disobedience against the Chinese military who just days before violently put down a democratic uprising against the Communist Party.

Ever since I learned about Tank Man in high school I’ve idolized him. He’s been my computer desktop background for years, and I even bought a canvas of the photo and have it hanging on my wall in my apartment.

We have no idea who he is or the fate he met for standing against a massive column of tanks, but I think if we all wish to see a free society in our life time we should be prepared to obstruct, even with our own bodies, the gross injustices perpetrated by the state.

I also really enjoy the symbolism of him holding grocery bags. It shows the dichotomy between voluntary cooperation in the marketplace and the brutal violence of state power and authority.

I’ve included the lesser-known wide angle shot so you can get a real feeling for just how profound his actions were.

Be like Tank Man.


September 9th 1976: Chairman Mao dies

On this day in 1976, the Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong died just after midnight at the age of 82. Born in 1893 into a Chinese farming family, the young Mao quickly developed an interest in Marxist and Communist ideology. After World War Two, a civil war broke out in China between the ruling nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek and the communists he had tried to purge. Despite having the support of many Western nations like the United States, Chiang Kai-shek was defeated and Mao, who had led the communists, was victorious. On October 1st 1949 Mao proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Mao then ruled the country as Chairman of the Communist Party, and under his rule any opposition to the communist regime was ruthlessly suppressed. Millions died under his rule, some from his disastrous policies like the ‘Great Leap Forward’ of 1958 which tried to rapidly transform China from an agrarian to industrial economy and triggered a deadly famine. Millions more died under his ruthless persecution, especially after the 'Cultural Revolution’ of 1966 which aimed to purge counter-revolutionary forces in Chinese society. Overall Mao’s rule is believed to have caused the deaths of 40 to 70 million people. In his last years Mao worked to ease tensions with Western powers and met with US President Nixon in China in 1972. Mao Zedong died in 1976 following a period of deteriorating health; his body lay in state at the Great Hall of the People for ten days and his embalmed body remains on display in his mausoleum in Beijing.

Celebrating the "Unknown Rebel”

26 years ago today, the whole world watched as a lone Chinese hero stood in front of an advancing column of tanks, refusing to stand down in the face of authoritarianism. 

On the 26th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square, we’re reflecting on the importance of individual liberty while reading old catoinstitute​ articles on the bone-chilling act of valiant defiance at Tiananmen Square.

“China has made substantial economic progress, but the ghosts of Tiananmen are restless and will continue to be so until the Goddess of Liberty is restored,” writes James A. Dorn in this  #ThrowbackThursday Cato@Liberty post from the 20th Anniversary.

"Because the Communist Party departed from orthodoxy and allowed a greater degree of economic freedom, 680 million Chinese fled poverty between 1980 and 2010 and the rate of extreme poverty fell from 84% to 10% during the same period. However…China is still ruled by a regime that represses freedoms of the individual,” wrote Gabriela Calderon de Burgos on Cato’s Spanish language blog, Libremente, in honor of the 25th anniversary last year.

Imagine a world in which the Chinese government (and all others!) had respected its peoples’ rights of assembly and free speech. It might have looked something like this…..

Members of the Kaifeng Jewish community and the Israeli liaison to the community, Eran Barzilay, in the back.  Picture was taken in Kaifeng, People’s Republic of China; 2012. x

The Kaifeng Jewish community has existed in China since at least the North Song Dynasty, though some accounts claim that it was established as far back as 618 C.E.  The establishment of the Kaifeng Jewish community took place when Kaifeng was a major center of commerce on the silk road and the common theory is that Jewish merchants crossed the silk road to settle there.

During the Ming dynasty, Kaifeng Jews were assigned eight surnames that are still used today: Ai, Shi, Gao, Gan, Jin, Li, Zhang, and Zhao; though the Zhang family had largely converted to Islam in the early 1900′s.  Current government censuses show 1,000 Kaifeng Jewish people living in Kaifeng with an estimated 40 to 50 actively involved in synagogue activities.  In 2010, in response to foreign Christian missionaries attempting to convert members of the Kaifeng Jewish community, Shavei Israel opened a Jewish center where Jewish religion and culture could be taught to reconnect Kaifeng Jews with their roots.  However, in 2014, this center was shut down by the Chinese government and has remained closed since.  According to Rabbi Anson Laytner, the former president of the Sino-Jewish Institute, “Their very survival as Jews is at stake.” 

Saturday & Sunday at MoMA Film: An elderly man recalls Mao’s China in the documentary Mr. Zhang Believes, screening as part of our annual Doc Fortnight festival. 

[Chi (Mr. Zhang Believes). 2015. China. Directed by Qiu Jiongjiong. Shown: Cai Yifan as Zhang as a child. Courtesy of All Ways Pictures]