Fudan University Relaxes Sex Rules for Students (July 19, 2005)

Up until the early 1990s, one rarely saw young couples holding hands in public. As the following article suggests, by the early 2000s, attitudes began to moderate somewhat. Although dating in high school remained frowned upon, university officials had more difficulty controlling college students, despite outdated rules that continued to prohibit dating. With rapidly shifting attitudes toward premarital sex, more and more Chinese college couples showed little concern over public displays of affection and, behind closed doors, became intimate in ways their parents' generation found inappropriate and scandalous. By the late 1990s, several high-profile cases resulted in students being expelled for having sex, becoming pregnant, or simply having a long-term relationship. Government and university officials also came under fire for the lack of sex education and the rising number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases. Despite the growing acknowledgment that such rules were outdated even as late as 2005, when this article xoas published, many schools still attempted to enforce such rules.


  • 1. What is the rationale used by Chinese universities for their harsh stance toward students' intimate behavior?
  • 2. Why do you think Fudan is no longer immediately expelling students for having sex?

Unmarried students at Fudan University will no longer be immediately expelled for having sex, according to a draft version of a revised campus regulation posted on the school's Website last week.

Students will still be punished if they are caught between the sheets with a lover, however.

The school is looking for feedback on the draft, and the rule will go into effect this September after necessary revisions.

Students caught having sex, whether on campus or off, will receive a warning and a bad report on their personal record. Students can be expelled after two warnings.

The new rule comes in response to the Ministry of Education's decision to end a ban on students getting married.

“The revised draft is designed to be in line with the Ministry of Education's new university student management rule," the Website announcement said.

The ministry's new rule, which was issued in March, didn't say anything about students engaging in sex.

Earlier this month, Chongqing Normal University set off a controversy when it issued a rule saying students would be immediately expelled for improper sexual behavior.

The rule specifically forbids female students from engaging in adulterous affairs with married men, but didn't mention male students having sex.

Fudan officials refused yesterday to say what constitutes improper sexual activities, or what is allowed.

Many students question whether schools should have the authority to ban sex, and suggested the rule can't be enforced.

"The sex ban goes against the law and therefore violates students' rights," said Shan Min, a graduate student at Tongji University.

In China, men are allowed to marry at the age of 22 and women can tie the knot at the age of 20, he said. Since many students are older than that, their sex lives are no one else's business, Shan added.

Shen Yaxin, a Fudan university student, said that the ban is simply to show an attitude that the school opposes students having sex and won't be enforced.

"No one would let the secret out if they have sex," Shen said. "How could the school know if they have no evidence?"

Earlier this year, a male student at Shanghai University was expelled after he allowed his girlfriend to spend the night in his dorm room to look after him while he was sick. His expulsion raised a great deal of controversy among many people in the city.

The “Two Children” Dilemma (2018)

In 2016, China's central government announced that it would allow all married couples living in urban centers to have two children. This followed a relaxation of the one-child policy that had allowed a second child but only when one of the parents was an only child themselves. Thus, the new law was referred to as the "universal two-child" policy. The following article, written by Xinhua journalist Pan Ye, was originally published in a popular bimonthly magazine and shared widely. It highlights the very different dynamics that current Chinese policies face from those in earlier decades in shifting Chinese social and demographic patterns in government-preferred directions.


  • 1. What is the main factor shaping the "universal two-child" policy?
  • 2. Why does the author believe it is unlikely that the birthrate will rise in the near future?

To Have a Second Child or Not?

Is this a question you are you pondering? Don't rush to give an answer. Let's first conduct a small survey. Ask your relatives who live in big urban cities and those still living in your hometown to see how many children they have. How many do they want to have? Compare their answers with that of the previous generation to see how the number of children people they desired differed. Likely, today many people want children, but probably not as many they did in the past.

Let's look at the data: earlier this year, the National Bureau of Statistics released figures that underscore the situation behind the implementation of the "universal two-child" policy. In 2017, China recorded 17.23 million births, a decrease of 630,000 (3.5%) over the previous year. Of those births, 51.2% were second children, an increase of 11% compared to 2016. It showed that the "universal second-child" policy was not enough to reverse the decline in the nation's birthrate. Instead, it simply reflects a reversal from previous efforts to limit the number of births [per family], with the rate of second children surpassing fifty percent for the first time.

With the New Policy, Why Wouldn't You Have a Second Child?

If you ask young mothers, they probably will reply with four words “too tired for another" [leijue busheng] which simply means they "are so exhausted that a second child is unlikely."

Here "tired" begins with childbirth itself. With the cost of childbirth rising and daily pressures increasing, some couples are afraid to have a second child. According to Internet statistics, the cost of raising a child from birth to entering college is estimated to be over two million yuan [approx. $300,000 USD] if one lives in the first-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Although the number is hard to confirm, our previous study on cost-profit comparison suggests raising a child is becoming less and less cost effective. Raising a child is no longer an "investment" but has become more like a "luxury." ...

In addition to the cost of raising a child, there is an "opportunity cost." As the social status of women has risen, women's status and pursuits have also improved. They have become more aware of the cost and price of childbirth. They consider the effect of children on career promotion. They weigh the effect of potential [postpartum] depression and how childbearing might affect their physical appearance. The opportunity cost incurred as a mother raising children is becoming higher and higher.

A female designer friend said, in her company everyone's workload is such that leaving work early to take care of children is impossible. As a result, this female designer only considered having children at 41. And then she contemplated having two children at once through medical assistance if necessary....

The book, Chinese Could Have More Children co-authored by Ctrip founder Liang Jianzhang, together with demographers, Li Jianxin and Huang Wenzheng, offers a more pessimistic forecast suggesting that China's fertility rate will drop below 1.2, close to that of Japan and South Korea by 2030. Their most pessimistic prediction is that China's future fertility rate could drop as low as 1.03. That would be a huge catastrophe.

Many people believe that [China's one-child] family planning policy caused the decrease of fertility rate among Chinese family. This is not fair. In fact, economists estimated, that China's fertility rate would have dropped to 1.5 even without the one-child policy. Regardless, China's population will peak at some point in the twenty-first century before beginning to decline again.

The past experiences of mid-range developed countries confirms that increased economic development leads to a gradual decline in the fertility rate. The European fertility rate fell into this trap in 1970s and 1980s. Similarly, after experiencing rapid economic development, many Asian countries fertility rate declined even more rapidly, with Japan and Korea experiencing the lowest rates. China will be no exception.

Thus, more and more scholars are calling for an effort to boost the birth rate, not simply authorize a second child, but implement policies that provide subsidies and offers paid maternity leave. Childbirth is not just a concern of the family but also a concern of the state. In order to ease the problem of "too tired for childbirth," I want to offer a bizarre thought by posing the question of whether giving birth will need to become a sort of "industry" in the future? If it does come true, will you choose or not choose to have a child?

HU YAOBANG (1915-1989)—A key reformer under Deng Xiaoping who served as Secretary General. His support for students in 1987 led to his removal from office, and his death triggered student demonstrations in 1989.

LI PENG (1928-2019)—

Raised by Zhou Enlai, educated in the Soviet Union, and rising to prominence under Deng Xiaoping, he was a key advocate and orchestrator of the harsh suppression of demonstrators in the June 4 Tiananmen Incident (1989). He was the key architect of the Three Gorges Dam project.


The bloody military suppression of the 1989 student movement on June 4 that brought an end to two months of student demonstrations, hunger strikes, and unprecedented international media attention. Several hundred unarmed students and civilians died in the early- morning military attack.

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