6A—Editorial Page—Saturday, September 2, 1912
An Independent Newspaper
Awesome Problems Ahead
Overpopulated Countries Struggle
For More Effective Birth Control
By PAUL MILLER
HONG KONG — One of the biggest
changes in years in public attitudes toward a major question is on the subject of birth control.
Our Associated Press party has just
come out of China after a three-week visit, and we have seen the awesome problems shadowing the future for a nation
with 800 million-plus human beings, and growing still.
China is pressing population control
programs involving the offering of free
pills and other contraceptives to women
everywhere, as well as free abortions and
hospital care. They say control programs
are getting results in cities, not proving so effective elsewhere.
Other developing nations around the
world are taking their own steps. Yet it
seems only a few years since, if there was
any discussion of the problem at all, it
was often treated as something a long
way down the road, perhaps. There were
few extensive government programs.
A strong segment could be found in
any country contending that there was
no problem. Or that it would go away.
Or that "science" would find ways to
solve it by increased food production.
Now near desperation is manifested
by some as they consider the future in
heavily populated countries.
One from an industrial nation cannot
see China's sturdy swarms of farm work
ers doing work that machines will assuredly be doing a few years heme
without wondering what displaced hordes will be doing in the future.
Fifty young Chinese may now be employed setting a concrete utility pole. A
handful can do it with modern equip
ment when it becomes available.
Many of the thousands of little carts,
their owners struggles along pulling the
heavy loads, can be displaced in no time
when Chinese factories now being expanded begin turning out heavy duty
trucks at a faster rate.
These are a few examples the Chinese appear aware.
The big problem of program adminisrators and others interested may still be
apathy and inaction in China, as in other countries.
That is where the blame is placed here
in Hong Kong, this tiny British colony
of four million persons, flooded as it has
been with immigrants from China and
elsewhere, multiplying many times what
might have been considered the normal growth rates.
Hong Kong writer Lorraine Smith
writes that whether a family can afford
more children or not "seems to concern
all too few people . . . Those with the
least money have the most children. The
problem is (to) get through to the hard
core mothers who produce a baby every 12 months or so."
This commentator called attention to
one of the drastic measures recently proposed in crowded Singapore: To stop
giving priority for re-housing to large families.
"Hard thinking," she said, "is what
is needed if Hong Kong is to have sufficient living and breathing space in the
future for its population."
In rural Ghana, Miss Smith's report
QUOTE OF THE WEEK;
In the small Illinois town called Paris,
Pre-election polls tend to embarrass.
The most recent one told
That of eighty-six polled,
Forty-five never heard of Lou Harris.
—Walter Marks, New York Magazine, New York City
went on, housewives are now being offered free tins of powdered milk as an
incentive to adopt contraceptives. The number of women seeking birth control
information doubled in one week after the offer was made.
Even so, Ghana is a land where many
women have never even heard of contraceptives, and where children are regarded as an economic asset in many
rural areas. Of all who turned up to
seek information along with the prizes
of powdered milk, only a third actually accepted.
The story is repeated wherever control programs are introduced among
women of traditional background. But the news is that a variety of programs are now actually in effect.
. . . Hong Kong Booms
Hong Kong continues one of the busiest spots in the world on sea, land or in the air.
Victoria Harbor is jammed, if possible, with even more of the widest variety
of shipping-—from Chinese junks to battleships—than we saw here a year ago.
New skyscrapers rise or are rising
from the waterfront to nearby mountaintops. And, as at San Francisco, every
new high-rise penalizes some previous construction. The elegant Mandarin Hotel
faring the harbor from across Connaught Road, is losing half its once-open view
to a 52-story office building to be opened soon on "made" land.
With all this, coolies still run rickshas from posts down Connaught from
the hotel and carry unbelievable loads of
luggage balanced on their shoulder poles
to the Star ferry a block away and the
Kowloon railroad station across the harbor.
Hong Kong swarms with representatives of international companies entrenched here now not only for trade
booming today but also for additional commerce to develop as China continues opening to the world.
There is concern about competition from Shanghai as a trading center, but
only among those with the longer view;
most are too busy dealing with the now
to give much thought to the future.
The airport, which like everything
else is only a short distance from any
important point, is being expanded for
the bigger and faster international traffic
now in sight. The newly ed tunnel
under Victoria speeds Hong Kong-to-mainland traffic, as do helicopter taxis
which add their din to sounds and sights
that are duplicated nowhere else in this world.
—Associated Press photo by Horst Fass
Shanghai street scene: "Many of the thousands of little carts, their owners struggling pullin gthe heavy loads, can be displaced in no time when the Chinese factories now being expanded begin turning out heavy duty trucks at a faster rate."
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