By Tess Sohngen, For The Miami Student
China's recent announcement overturning its one-child policy has proven controversial, but many Miami University Chinese students believe it is a positive change.
For 36 years, China's one-child program limited each family to raising one child.
The Chinese government has been relaxing the policy since 2014, and announced Oct. 29 that Chinese families can now have up to two children.
The change is meant to combat the dwindling number of workers due to a low birth rate and more Chinese citizens reaching retirement.
Although the impact this policy has on Americans is yet to be seen, it may impact the 1,954 Miami students from China. This year marks the highest number of international students from China and over three times the number of Chinese students enrolled in 2011, according to InterLink.
Sophomore Cecilia Keyao Xian said she thinks allowing families to have two children is a good thing. Xian is a nutrition major from the southern part of China and is an only child, like her parents and friends.
"It is lonely when you're growing up and you are alone," Xian said. "You don't have that person to go through things with you and difficulties."
Proponents believe the change will benefit China's economy and aging demographic, as Chinese companies that sell baby products watched their stocks dramatically rise after the announcement of a two-child policy, according to StartUp China.
Advocates of the new policy also believe the change will alleviate pressure on Chinese families and reduce the number of female infanticide that resulted from the one-child policy. The gender ratio is 100 girls to every 117.6 boys born, making China the most gender-imbalanced country in the world, according to Investopedia.
"It is good for the labor [force] and our culture," said Bo Gong, a first-year student from Beijing. "I think it is a really great idea."
Gong said that the possibility of aunts and uncles would improve the Chinese culture and strengthen families.
Professor Liang Shi said the policy change is positive for Chinese citizens and their government.
He was born and raised in China before he moved to the United States and became a citizen. He now teaches Chinese and is the adviser to the Chinese program at Miami.
Shi said Western media tends to look for the negative in policies and stories related to China, and that looking for the negative outcomes of this policy change casts a shadow on the positive aspects.
"Chinese families are still free, and it gives them a choice where they didn't have one before," Shi said.
Western media has a history of negative views of China's family policy. The New York Times is one of dozens of media outlets to publish a story titled "China's brutal one-child policy," and Ma Jian wrote "China's barbaric one-child policy" for the Guardian in 2013.
Republican presidential candidates have expressed dissatisfaction with the policy change, highlighting that forced abortions will still occur under the new legislation.
"A two-child policy is as indefensible and inhumane as a one-child policy, and it would be a
mistake to assume this change in any way reflects a newfound respect for human rights by Beijing," Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) told LifeNews.
Other critics of the program argue relaxing the one-child policy will do more harm than good, especially in the short term, as retiring people will strain the shrinking work force, according to StartUp China.
However, Xian says many people are happy with the shift.
"When I ask all my friends if they would want a brother or a sister, they say yes," said Xian.