Exemptions in China’s ‘one-child policy’

November 5, 2010

We often hear criticism in the West about China’s one child policy but seldom hear about the exceptions to that law.

There is an exception to the ‘one-child policy’ for China’s ethnic minorities. However, population control must be explained to everyone anyway.

For example, to slow population growth, China asks the Islamic Imams of the ten million Hui Muslims in China to talk to the people who worship in their temples.

Many Hui live in one of the autonomous regions in Ningxia, between southern Gansu and Inner Mongolia.

We often hear of the Uighur Muslims since they have a separatist movement and sometimes protest, but the Uighur are not the only Muslims in China.

The Hui are unique among the fifty-six officially recognized minorities of China in that Islam is their only unifying identity. They do not have a unique language and often intermarry with Han Chinese.

In fact, many live outside the Hui autonomous area.

After the Imam reads from the Quran, he explains the need for population control.  The single-child policy is actually a one, two or three child policy for the Hui depending on where they live.

Even though the Hui may have more than one child, many stop after having only one.

Since minorities in China are a small segment of the population, China’s government has exercised flexibility with the birth rate in order to keep the minorities an important part of China’s culture—sort of like affirmative action in the US.

In addition, in the countryside, having more children provides more hands in the fields with the hard agricultural work.

Learn more about China’s One Child policy.  How would you like to be responsible to feed more than 1.3 billion people?


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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China: Portrait of a People–a book review

March 2, 2010

Most tourists travel by jet or bus and spend nights in four or five star hotels sleeping on plush beds. They eat at only the best restaurants. Only a few visit countries like Sir Richard Francis Burton, the famous nineteenth century explorer and adventurer. Tom Carter is one of those few. Imagine backpacking for two years and walking 35,000 miles to capture the heart and soul of a nation. That’s what Tom Carter did to create China: Portrait of a People.

The consensus among ‘backpackers’ is that China is probably the single most challenging country in the world to visit on foot. That by itself should tell you a lot.

There are more than 1.3 billion people in China. Besides the majority Han Chinese, the population includes fifty-six ethnic groups numbering over one hundred million. Carter saw it all from the teenage girl living in Chengdu dressed like an American punk rocker to the soot covered coal miner in Southern Shanxi. Carter’s camera lens captured the complexity and diversity of China.

Tom Carter is a guerrilla hit and run photojournalist with a camera instead of a grenade launcher.  To take the up close and personal pictures in ‘Portrait of  a People’, Carter risked jail; almost froze on the way to Tibet; faced exhaustion and hunger; was beaten by drunks; plagued by viral infections, and risked being shot by North Korean border guards.  The hundreds of photos in ‘Portrait’ are priceless. I doubt if there will ever be another book about China like this one. From Inner Mongolian nomads to newlyweds in Hong Kong, Carter saw it all.

There is an old saying that a picture is equal to a thousand words. Great pictures tell stories.

In ‘China: Portrait of a People’, each picture is worth ten thousand words or maybe more. Carter’s photojournalist study of China stands alone in its genre as it focuses expressly on the Chinese people. Carter  backpacked to remote areas to visit China’s minorities like the thousand year old Phoenix Village perched over the Tuo Jiang River or the seventy-five year old Pai Yao minority farmer in his red turban.

To reach some locations, Carter had to travel on foot into some seriously rugged terrain. To get an idea what I’m talking about, consider that China, almost the size of the United States, has only sixteen percent of its land for growing crops. The rest is either mountains or deserts.

Between the covers of ‘Portrait’, you will see what happens when a modern day Sir Richard Francis Burton spends two years backpacking through China’s thirty-three provinces and autonomous regions, not once but twice. During this odyssey, Carter discovered that the Chinese are a friendly, open hearted people.

If you plan to visit China, buy this book before you go. On the other hand, if you are an armchair tourist that never strays far from home, Carter’s Rembrandt ‘Portrait’ of China will not disappoint. You will chuckle when you see the young, twin boys walking out of the river after a swim or watch the eight year old acrobat student at Wuqiao bending herself like a folded sheet of paper.

Between the covers of ‘Portrait’, you will start a vicarious journey visiting China like few have done even among the Chinese. You will travel on this 35,000 mile journey without leaving your house, bus or jet seat.

There is no way that this review can do justice for ’China: Portrait of a People’. To try would require millions of words. Seeing is believing. What are you waiting for? Take that first step.

Discover Tom Carter’s Guest Post at 24 Hours in Qiannianyaozhai


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.