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Salient. Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 8. Monday, July 1, 1963

China's Family System Remains

China's Family System Remains

A Recent "letter to the editor"—and the reply—placed in the Party youth daily, Chung-kuo Ch'ing-nien Pao (China Youth Daily, Peking) presents a vivid picture of one of the problems faced by students in today's China. It also indicates that the Chinese Communist regime has moved from the position of an avowed enemy of the family as a basic social unit.

The writer of the letter is a young student from a provincial college in a rural district of China. "I entered college the year before last," the student reports. "To my grief my mother died the following ing November, leaving behind my father, myself, and a younger brother and sister." Thus, he continues, pressure was put on him to marry "and look after the family." But he refused.

"I had three reasons for doing so: I was still at college and getting married would have meant distracting my attention and energies from my studies; I did not love anyone … at the present time; if I were to take any old partner in a hurry, the happiness of both of us would probably be affected …

"A year has already passed, and I have held my ground, although I am worried because people are accusing me of not being filially obedient. This state of affairs is embarrassing me and is affecting my feelings, my thoughts, and my work."

The letter ends with an anguished question—"Comrade editor, what is really meant by filial piety?"

As might be expected, comrade editor compliments the young student for postponing marriage—this is in line with the Party's current intensive campaign against early mariage in an effort (combined with birth control methods) to check China's huge population growth. What is surprising, however, is the editor's stern advice which follows:

"It is … your duty to look after your father and your brother and sister. It may seem difficult to combine doing this with being a student, but there are solutions. For instance … you can use your vacations to go home and do something for them. When you have graduated, you can send them money. Help them with all means in your power."

During the days of the ill-fated "Great Leap Forward," the family had been consistently attacked by the Party press as "feudal, capitalistic, individualistic, and unhealthy." Beginning in 1958, youth was told that it owes filial obedience to "the Party, the Leaders, the Motherland, the Liberation Army" and to the Commune—but never to its parents or relatives.