Heirs of China's one-child policy

Ms Jiejin Qiu, who is six months pregnant with her first baby, posing underwater during a photo shoot at a wedding photo studio in Shanghai. Under China’s one-child policy, Ms Qiu and others like her are allowed to have only one baby. Couples viola
Ms Jiejin Qiu, who is six months pregnant with her first baby, posing underwater during a photo shoot at a wedding photo studio in Shanghai. Under China’s one-child policy, Ms Qiu and others like her are allowed to have only one baby. Couples violating the policy have to pay a fine or, in some cases, undergo an abortion. China fined acclaimed film director Zhang Yimou 7.5 million yuan (S$1.5 million) earlier this year for having three children.
1979: Mr Cai Hua said: “I wish I had a sister. I prefer to have a sister rather than a brother. “I have a lot of friends who have a brother and they usually fight with each other. I think that would be fun, but I would prefer to have a sister.”
1979: Mr Cai Hua said: “I wish I had a sister. I prefer to have a sister rather than a brother. “I have a lot of friends who have a brother and they usually fight with each other. I think that would be fun, but I would prefer to have a sister.”
1980: Mr Huang Zheng said: “Yes, of course, I’d like to have a brother or a sister because I would have someone to live and study with. “If possible, I’d like to have an older sister. It’s more appropriate and easier to communicate with a s
1980: Mr Huang Zheng said: “Yes, of course, I’d like to have a brother or a sister because I would have someone to live and study with. “If possible, I’d like to have an older sister. It’s more appropriate and easier to communicate with a sister than with your parents if you’re faced with problems.  “I’m not saying that I feel lonely. Having a sibling would just make life more colourful.”
1981: Ms Zhou Yu said: “I wish I could have a brother because I am the only child in my family, and, while I do have lots of cousins, I’m the eldest.  “So sometimes I wish I had an older brother to take care of me. Growing up, I think I mi
1981: Ms Zhou Yu said: “I wish I could have a brother because I am the only child in my family, and, while I do have lots of cousins, I’m the eldest.  “So sometimes I wish I had an older brother to take care of me. Growing up, I think I missed out on having male role models.”
1982: Ms Xu Yufang: "I longed to have a brother to protect me, because I'm alone." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1982: Ms Xu Yufang: "I longed to have a brother to protect me, because I'm alone." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1983: Mr Qin Wen: "I think it's good to have a brother or a sister." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1983: Mr Qin Wen: "I think it's good to have a brother or a sister." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1984: Ms Liu Yun: "I'm a single child. I don't want to have any brother or sister. I have cousins, I would say we love each other and we have very good connections. So I never feel I need a brother or a sister." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1984: Ms Liu Yun: "I'm a single child. I don't want to have any brother or sister. I have cousins, I would say we love each other and we have very good connections. So I never feel I need a brother or a sister." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1985: Mr Zhang Bowen: "I'd like to have a sister or a brother, because I would feel less lonely growing up." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1985: Mr Zhang Bowen: "I'd like to have a sister or a brother, because I would feel less lonely growing up." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1986: Mr Lu Da: "If there is a chance I'd like to have brothers and sisters. On the one hand, during my growth it is a good thing to have a brother or a sister who has similar age around. For many things I could discuss with him or her. On the other
1986: Mr Lu Da: "If there is a chance I'd like to have brothers and sisters. On the one hand, during my growth it is a good thing to have a brother or a sister who has similar age around. For many things I could discuss with him or her. On the other hand when my parents get older I need to take the responsibility of taking care of them. If there are brothers or sisters at home things will be much easier." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1987: Ms Chen Xuejun: "I want to have an older brother. We could play together and he would protect me." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1987: Ms Chen Xuejun: "I want to have an older brother. We could play together and he would protect me." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1988: Mr Dai Chen: "I don't want to have siblings because if I had a brother or a sister I would have to share. It would be difficult to get a good education." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1988: Mr Dai Chen: "I don't want to have siblings because if I had a brother or a sister I would have to share. It would be difficult to get a good education." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1989: Ms Zhu Wenjun: "Of course I want to have a brother or a sister because being a single child is so lonely. I want to have someone to play with and grow up with." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1989: Ms Zhu Wenjun: "Of course I want to have a brother or a sister because being a single child is so lonely. I want to have someone to play with and grow up with." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1990: Mr Zhang Haoran: "Actually it would be a good thing to have brothers or sisters who are of similar age. Then some problems that arise in our adulthood might be solved [more easily]. For example, communication with peers, and also learning shari
1990: Mr Zhang Haoran: "Actually it would be a good thing to have brothers or sisters who are of similar age. Then some problems that arise in our adulthood might be solved [more easily]. For example, communication with peers, and also learning sharing, individualism." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1991: Mr Xiao Wenjin: "I wish I had brothers and sisters because I think it's interesting. I wouldn't feel so lonely. We would have to share ... I like to share." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1991: Mr Xiao Wenjin: "I wish I had brothers and sisters because I think it's interesting. I wouldn't feel so lonely. We would have to share ... I like to share." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1992: Ms Huang Erbin: "No, because of some financial reasons and another problem is I don't want to share my parents' love with other people." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1992: Ms Huang Erbin: "No, because of some financial reasons and another problem is I don't want to share my parents' love with other people." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1993: Ms Jiang Chencheng: "I wouldn't like to have a brother or a sister because I would have to share the [family's] financial [resources] with them and it would be very difficult for our parents to send them to good universities." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1993: Ms Jiang Chencheng: "I wouldn't like to have a brother or a sister because I would have to share the [family's] financial [resources] with them and it would be very difficult for our parents to send them to good universities." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1994: Ms Wang Yanrong: "Yes, I would like to have a brother or a sister because that would be much more fun. There are times when you don't know who to talk to and then it would be better if I had a sibling. I know a cousin who has a sibling and they
1994: Ms Wang Yanrong: "Yes, I would like to have a brother or a sister because that would be much more fun. There are times when you don't know who to talk to and then it would be better if I had a sibling. I know a cousin who has a sibling and they have a very good relationship." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1995: When asked if she would like siblings, Ms Lu Mengmeng said: “Maybe brothers, because I think they can protect me.”
1995: When asked if she would like siblings, Ms Lu Mengmeng said: “Maybe brothers, because I think they can protect me.”
1996: Mr Yang Zheng: "I would like to have a big brother to teach me things, take me travelling and take care of me." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1996: Mr Yang Zheng: "I would like to have a big brother to teach me things, take me travelling and take care of me." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1997: Zhao Mengge: "Yes I'd like to have sisters. Little sisters are not naughty and they are easier to look after." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1997: Zhao Mengge: "Yes I'd like to have sisters. Little sisters are not naughty and they are easier to look after." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1998: Zhang Xiaoying: "Yes, because if I had a brother older than me, he could help me do many things, play with me." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1998: Zhang Xiaoying: "Yes, because if I had a brother older than me, he could help me do many things, play with me." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
1999: For Zhu Diwen, having a cousin more than made up for not having siblings. He said: “I have a cousin and I don’t want to have brothers and sisters.”
1999: For Zhu Diwen, having a cousin more than made up for not having siblings. He said: “I have a cousin and I don’t want to have brothers and sisters.”
2000: Yao Jihan: "No. I don't know. Maybe, maybe, because it's troublesome. If there is one more person in this house, the room will not be big enough to hold two children. I don't feel lonely because I have a lot of friends." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2000: Yao Jihan: "No. I don't know. Maybe, maybe, because it's troublesome. If there is one more person in this house, the room will not be big enough to hold two children. I don't feel lonely because I have a lot of friends." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2001: Dai Jingting would like siblings "because it would be boring for me to stay at home alone". -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2001: Dai Jingting would like siblings "because it would be boring for me to stay at home alone". -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2002: Ding Tieru said: “I’d like to have a brother because we would be able to play together. I want more friends. We would be able to help each other in our studies.”
2002: Ding Tieru said: “I’d like to have a brother because we would be able to play together. I want more friends. We would be able to help each other in our studies.”
2003: Wang Qi’an has a more “scientific” reason for not wanting any siblings. "I have investigated all my classmates who have brothers or sisters. None of them perform well in their studies.”
2003: Wang Qi’an has a more “scientific” reason for not wanting any siblings. "I have investigated all my classmates who have brothers or sisters. None of them perform well in their studies.”
2004: Yu Yan: "I want to have someone to play with." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2004: Yu Yan: "I want to have someone to play with." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2005: Qian Dingheng: "I don't want [a sibling], because he would interrupt my homework." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2005: Qian Dingheng: "I don't want [a sibling], because he would interrupt my homework." -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2006: Liu Yuwei would like siblings "because I want to play with them". -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2006: Liu Yuwei would like siblings "because I want to play with them". -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2007: Liang Xiao, who lives in Shanghai and will be seven this year, said she wanted a little sister, “because little brothers are naughty”.
2007: Liang Xiao, who lives in Shanghai and will be seven this year, said she wanted a little sister, “because little brothers are naughty”.
2008: Ding Zhongcheng would consider siblings only if he could turn back the clock – he did not want younger siblings who would “mess up all the things in the house”. “If there was a chance that my mother could give birth to older siblings, t
2008: Ding Zhongcheng would consider siblings only if he could turn back the clock – he did not want younger siblings who would “mess up all the things in the house”. “If there was a chance that my mother could give birth to older siblings, then I would accept it,” he said.
2009: Dominating the living room in little Liu Ziyu’s home is a big pile of toys. When asked if she would like to have siblings, Ziyu said that she didn’t want any “because my mother would pay full attention to him or her”.
2009: Dominating the living room in little Liu Ziyu’s home is a big pile of toys. When asked if she would like to have siblings, Ziyu said that she didn’t want any “because my mother would pay full attention to him or her”.
2010: While some only-children long for the company of a sibling, others prefer the solitude of being an only child. When asked if he would like to have siblings, Qin Wuyue, who lives in Shanghai, said: “No, they’re noisy.”
2010: While some only-children long for the company of a sibling, others prefer the solitude of being an only child. When asked if he would like to have siblings, Qin Wuyue, who lives in Shanghai, said: “No, they’re noisy.”
2011: Ma Chenxi. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2011: Ma Chenxi. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2012: Xin Zhiteng is also too young to express his thoughts on having siblings.
2012: Xin Zhiteng is also too young to express his thoughts on having siblings.
2013: Huang Aiting. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2013: Huang Aiting. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
2014: Baby Jin Yanxi, born this year, is unable to say if he would like company.
2014: Baby Jin Yanxi, born this year, is unable to say if he would like company.

Introduced in 1979, China’s one-child policy has resulted in a generation of only children.

The state estimates that 400 million births have been averted since 1980, saving scarce food resources and helping to pull families out of poverty.

But critics say the policy has also created a generation of spoilt brats and reinforced a cultural preference for male heirs who can better take care of their parents in old age – if couples are allowed only one child, many want to make sure it is a boy.

“The parents put all their eggs in one basket,” said Mr Huang Zheng, who was born in 1980.

“This generation carries the burden of too much pressure. But it has already become the norm because everyone is in the same situation.”

Couples violating the policy have had to pay a fine or, in some cases, have been forced to undergo abortions.

But late last year, China said it would allow millions of families to have two children as part of a plan to raise fertility rates and ease the financial burden on the country’s rapidly ageing population. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria photographed a person born every year after the introduction of China’s one-child policy and asked them if they would like to have siblings.

2010: While some only-children long for the company of a sibling, others prefer the solitude of being an only child. When asked if he would like to have siblings, Qin Wuyue, who lives in Shanghai, said: “No, they’re noisy.”

2003: Wang Qi’an has a more “scientific” reason for not wanting any siblings. "I have investigated all my classmates who have brothers or sisters. None of them perform well in their studies.

1995: When asked if she would like siblings, Ms Lu Mengmeng said: “Maybe brothers, because I think they can protect me.”

1991: Mr Xiao Wenjin: "I wish I had brothers and sisters because I think it's interesting. I wouldn't feel so lonely. We would have to share ... I like to share."

1982: Ms Xu Yufang: "I longed to have a brother to protect me, because I'm alone."