Michaela Merz

Shanghai – Oriental Pearl TV Tower and one child policy

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Exactly on the last day of my stay in Shanghai the “space capsule“ on the highest floor of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower reopened after 3 million renovation works. It’s true that the entry ticket is quite expensive. But what are 220 Yuan (around 35 US Dollars) compared to the panoramic view from the three observatory decks at 339 meters! That would have been true if there were no pollution. The view outside was disappointing because the poor air quality impaired the visibility. So I could not take a picture!!

There were other things you could see like the new high-tech elements on outer space, you could touch the sky with your fingers at the star wall screen, find your own constellation, type in wishes for the future and also dance Gangnam style following an extraterrestrial in front of a large screen.

But I preferred to talk to people. Surprisingly all of the following information arrived from three different men aged 30, 50 and 60. I was told that the legal retirement age for women is 50 and 60 for men!!! Family is the centre of gravity in China and the one child policy is having quite a huge influence on the society. Preferred are boys. So there are 120 born boys in relation to 100 born girls. Even though the official policy is against abortion, by such figures it has to happen on a daily basis.

But what do you do with all these boys when they turn 20 and start to think about marriage and cannot find a bride? You import the brides, even if it’s illegal. And they are coming from countries where the standard of living is lower like Vietnam or Thailand. Scary development. I was offered two boys in their twenties to marry my two daughters!! With the comment “They will not regret it!!!!” Whatever that means.

As children are supposed to take care of their old parents, the new one child generations are facing a demanding task. And if your only one child dies and there is nobody who

can take care of you, the city government pays 5000 Yuan as one time subsidy and 150 Yuan per month to such families to compensate their loss.

I wanted to know how strict the one child policy is still observed. It’s still the official policy and if you work for the government or a state owned company you better stick to it because otherwise you may lose your job. But others decided for a second child and did not even need to pay a fine.

At the end we talked about salaries and prices. I was very surprised to hear that a university graduate from a normal university earns 2000 Yuan per month and has currently difficulties finding a job at all. A nanny however earns between 3000 and 4000 Yuan plus board and lodging. A graduate from one of the top universities starts with a salary of 5000 Yuan per month, however even he has to work long in order to be able to afford a normal flat, which costs at least 1m USD. Obviously now I understand the fight for the university places at the best schools.

In January 2013 355’000 square metres of land in the city were sold for 5.15 billion Yuan (817 million US$), a year on year increase of 37.7% and 96.2% respectively – but nobody is worried about a crash on the real estate market.

I admit that I fell in love with China during my first travel – despite all its contradictions. And if you are interested in a marriage-minded, diligent man, let me know and I will send the address.

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