Hot Pot Nation
ALL IN THE FAMILY
David Chen is a Kunshan native with his own small business that refurbishes factories. Kunshan is a small city by Chinese standards—about 650,000 people—a 45-minute drive to the northwest of Shanghai, made rich by early investment from Taiwanese factories in the mid-1980s. David’s dream is to emigrate to Canada. He’s a successful entrepreneur, speaking English in a hurried, staccato fashion. David and his wife had a son, who was four years old when his wife found out she was pregnant with their second child. The nurse who performed the ultrasound scan in the first trimester was the wife’s eldest sister. The sister agreed to keep the pregnancy a secret while David continued to pursue a visa to Canada to work. Then, their thinking went, when they emigrated to Canada, they would be able to have the child without harassment from local government authorities.
Ironically, David’s eldest brother worked in the local government, in the department that monitors local citizens’ adherence to the one-child policy, which limits the number of children that parents can have to a single birth. The policy does have its exceptions: parents who have a daughter as the first child may try again for a second child after two years without penalty. But if the first child was the ever-important son, the family must pay stiff fines for the second child, which ...