BEIJING — Bereaved parents are demanding more compensation from China’s government, blaming the now-defunct one-child policy for robbing them of the chance to have more kids.
"I don’t have any hope anymore," said Zhou Ru Xian, whose 24-year-old daughter died in 2013.
Zhou was among those at a Beijing protest highlighting the issue on Tuesday. Hundreds of police officers later herded many of the demonstrators onto buses.
The anger of such parents has intensified since the government last year announced it was reforming the one-child policy and giving couples the option of having a second baby. For decades, such an offense brought serious punishment including jail time, fines, or forced sterilization.
Critics claim changing family planning laws now may not be enough to stave off a demographic crisis in China. The population is expected to peak at 1.45 billion by 2050, when one-in-three Chinese will be over the age of 60 and a shrinking workforce may be unable to keep up.
Some parents say they receive up to 500 yuan ($77) per month from the government but insist that sum does not cover the cost of living or equal what a child could provide.
And for many, the relaxation of the one-child policy comes too late for them to get a second chance.
“To follow the law I made a decision to have only one child,“ said Zhou, who feared losing her job at a state-run company if she violated the controversial rule. The 53-year-old now dreads growing old alone with no one to support her.
Zhou and her husband put everything into raising their daughter, Yu Zhen, who excelled at school and went to study at a university in Japan.
However, Yu struggled to cope when a romantic relationship soured. Zhou's daughter leapt to her death from the 9th floor of a building three years ago.
“I have been dead since that day,“ said Zhou, wiping away tears. “The government made a promise to us, but now it doesn’t keep its word.”