Bioethics Blogs

One of a “Planned” Generation

Yeyang Su shares her story, personal observations and reflections on being one of the planned “one-child” generation.


The Chinese Communist Party recently announced that China would amend its family-planning policy by increasing the one-child restriction to two children. Those of us who are part of the “one-child” generation are once again in the spotlight.

I was born two years after the “one-child restriction” was written into China’s Constitution. I grew up with an increasing sense that I, like others of the “one-child” generation, was born with a mission: to be a “quality” citizen“. This is part of education, and is reinforced through family and societal expectations. The state defines its children as, first and foremost, the generators of national wealth, guardians of aging populations, and carers of future labourers—expectations that are normalized into our mind and body. Everything else is secondary.

Yeyang Su (left) and her friends at Brighton Pride in 2015

The expectations of others are so great that it is a daunting task to stop and think: “What do I want to do with my life?” I first had this thought about what I wanted out of life when busy with the task of applying for doctoral studies in biology abroad. For another month, I mechanically kept polishing applications. But from time to time, I sat in silence for hours, feeling total emptiness. Eventually I started to speak with others whom I trusted and believed would understand my struggle. Many were my peers with a similar social and educational background. I found I was not alone in questioning the future.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.