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Meet the Masters – The History, Present and Future of China’s “One Child” Policy and What the Impacts Could be on Your Financial Planning ​

This Interview Covers:

  • What was the genesis of the One Child Rule? 
  • The impacts of “ultrasound technology” on Chinese population
  • Chinese Woman and their Changing Attitudes on Family Formation
  • One Child impact on the workforce, retirement ages and opportunities for younger workers within China’s corporate culture 
  • The Chinese Travel Industry is Booming – why?
  • China’s Corporate Transparency and Need for Western Capital
  • Blue water Navy’s and should we fear China

Hey everybody.  This is Trevor Chambers with Olde Raleigh Financial.  Once again, we continue our blog series, Meet the Masters.  That’s part of our blog, Soundtrack to an Advisors life.  And today I have another blog on China, which I’m – I’m excited about this one because we’re going to be talking with Yong Cai.  He’s a PhD Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Population Center.  And we’re going to focus on Chinese population and demographics and Cai focuses on this area and he specifically has done a lot of research into China’s one child policy and the implications of that and their society.  And so welcome, Jong.  How are you today?

YONG CAI:   I’m good.  How are you?  Thanks for having me.

CHAMBERS:   Of course.  We’ve got a lovely sunny day in Raleigh.  You’re in – you’re in Chapel Hill.  I’m in Raleigh and we actually have a sunny day.  Isn’t this great?  We’re getting into –

CAI:   Spring is here.

CHAMBERS:   It’s fabulous.

CAI:   Yep.

CHAMBERS:   Yes.  So, let me just start, can you just give me a brief background on you and then we’ll jump right into where you’re from and, you know, why are you here at UNC?  And you just take it from there.

CAI:   Yeah.  So, I’m, right now as your introduction says, I’m Associate Professor of Sociology at UNC.  And my main area is China and particularly the Chinese demography.  I originally, I was born in China, raised in China and then I came here to Washington in Seattle for graduate school.  And then I joined the faculty at UNC in 2010.  So, it has been a little over ten years and my main, you know, specialty is basically for the last almost – over a decade what I have been working on is trying to convince people that the one child policy was – had – the fact on one child policy on the demographic side was not as big as people thought of, to start with.  And it will have various strong negative consequence to the Chinese society down the road.  So that’s – that’s what I have been working on.

CHAMBERS:   So, what’s the history of the one child rule?  Where did it come from?  When did it – when was it?  And then kinda (sic) where are we now?

CAI:   So, you know, the history is a little bit long.  We sort of have to go back to, you know, 1970’s to start with.  I think probably people have, you know, the memory of population bomb at the time the entire world’s population was growing like, you know, over one percent, close to two percentish (sic) back in 1960’s and 1970’s.  And people were scared.  You know, if we growing this way that every, you know, generation the population would double basically.  A simple rule.  It’s just like you do an investment, if your growth rate is two percent, the simple 70 rule – 70 divided by two, it’s 35 years.  You will double it.  So, people were scared.  You know, we would run out of room for us to – for everyone to live and so mostly from that part of world, United States and other countries are calling for the world to come together to have some family planning policy.  And the interesting thing is that at a time in 1970’s, China was already realizing the pressure, internally realizing the pressure because the government there at the time was, you know, a Socialist government.  It is – it’s a responsibility to appropriate resourcing in, you know, let’s say in industrialization and food.  Feeding its own people.  So, china was very poor so the government decided to say, hey we need to do something.  And in early – the truth is even in the 1990’s China was already doing something to control the population.  Restricting people in a one day could get married, you know, for example in Shanghai the policy was at least the recommendation was, you know, man should not get married until 25, maybe 26.  That was the push.  And the policy by 1970 was pushed off across the entire country.  The main slogan was later, longer, few, basically.  Asking people to marry at a later age and wait for longer to have kids and a few means have fewer kids.  So, the slogan I think at the time in early 1970’s the talk was they — people should have, you know, at most three kids, two would be good, one would not be too few.  So that was the slogan at the early 1970’s and that partially works liked magic.  China’s maturity was roughly six kids per woman at the beginning on 1970 and by 1978 it was down already to 2.7, 2.8ish (sic).  Okay, then right around that time, China had a leadership change.  Mao died in 1976.  Then Guofeng, the transitional figure, then Xiaoping came into power, but, you know, the country’s attention shifted more towards economic development than, you know, the revolution itself.  And one of the economic developments they start to, you know, look at the economic development goals and one of the goals, you know, one of the numerical index was GDP per capita.  And at the time China’s GDP per capita was more like 200 dollarish (sic).  And the goal was, you know, they have had a very simple calculation, say hey, we want to quadruple what GDP per capita in 20 years.  Okay, and that’s ruffly translating to seven percent growth per year.  

CHAMBERS:   What growth?

CAI:   Seven percent in the growth.

CHAMBERS:   Okay.

CAI:   Yeah.  In two decades, you know, you want to double and quadruple it –

CHAMBERS:   Yep.

CAI:   — every decade.  Again this handy calculation, 70 divided by —

CHAMBERS:   Yep.

CAI:   — something.  Comes right back.  And so, but, you know, we know when we look at GDP per capita there are two numbers to look at.  One is the GDP.  Then the per capita part.  So, on one hand you want to increase the growth rate of the GDP itself at the same time hopefully you can control the population size so that it will, you know, reduce, not necessarily reduce, but to control the growth of the (inaudible).  So, the talking was and but, you know, the – the history is a little bit more complicated.  So that was the thinking and as a Socialistic country, as a authoritarian system, the process goes basically the government was thinking, hey, if the program in the 1970’s was so successful, basically the population growth was reduced at like one per thousand per yearish (sic) rate.  And they want to say hey, if we can reach zero growth by the end of century, you know, in a controlled population within five percent growth and – no five per thousand – point five percent, point five per thousand in terms of growth rate.  If we can do that that would be great.  But that quickly becomes sort of a government mandate and decompose those goals to the local government.  And local government and also central government realized the only way to meet those goals was to basically force people not to have kids, or only have one child.  So that was the origin and there were all kinds of calculation come out the ways.  So, by 1980 the government put out, you know, was very publicly campaigning say it’s ideal.  So, this is always a tricky thing to talk about China.  The one child policy, being a policy itself was not, you know, clearly written in any government law or anything until quite late.  It all was – it was always pushed as a slow, as an ideal.  Say people hey you should only have one child.  So, the very famous open letter issued by the communist party to its member say hey you should be the avant-garde to lead this campaign and having only one child.  But quickly it was like especially in urban areas.  You can only have one child, period.  In the rural area that was a struggle between the government and the local population, especially peasants, because, you know, China as a rural country at the time and the labor needs were there.  And there also very strong tradition for the family to pass down the parents’ names through sons.  So, that very, very high demand to in almost every family needs a son to carry the family lineage.

CHAMBERS:   Right.

CAI:   So, it’s back and forth and the rural party was settled more like one point five.  The reason – it’s funny, we don’t have point five child.  The rule was if the first child is a boy, you’re done.  If the first child is a girl, you would be allowed to have a second try.  

CHAMBERS:   Yep.  

CAI:   Yeah.

CHAMBERS:   Now –

CAI:   That was the policy, yeah.  Go ahead.

CHAMBERS:   I just want to ask this and maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but is it true now that with adults at child bearing age, there’s more women, excuse me.  There’s too few women, way too many men.  

CAI:   That’s right.  So that exactly is the partly this tradition and the policy result. 

CHAMBERS:   Right.

CAI:   So, back in 1980 when this policy settles down, you can see it’s open discrimination, basically.  If a family has a girl, that –

CHAMBERS:   Right.

CAI:   — that means the message was very strong and clear that girl was less than boys.

CHAMBERS:   Wow.

CAI:  Okay.  And that was also the time that China imported large quantities of, you know, the new – modern technology, ultrasound technology.  The purpose, you know, it’s a medical device and you can use it to check all kinds of things, you know, including read the fetus sex.  The sex selective abortion become very, you know, widely practiced for family to achieve their – the family goal or have a desire of family composition.  So for, you know, if you’re looking to the Chinese statistics, there are areas that have the boy to girl ratio at 221.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   Yeah.  

CHAMBERS:   That’s crazy.

CAI:   It is crazy.  So there, so yes.  So there is a huge, you know, deficit of girls.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   Yeah.

CHAMBERS:   And especially, correct me if I’m wrong, but women and child, like women in the United States have been getting more educated and more educated and more educated and that – is that adding to pushing off, not only having a baby but pushing off, you know, settling down in marriage?

CAI:   Well, so I think this is sort of a, yeah, I think we are talking about the massive historical progress.  I still call this progress –

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   — in China.  And yes, you know, women and girls are, you know, shoulder more — a lot of those burdens and coming from the one child party itself.  But in this process, particularly starting from – so early on china, you know, even under Socialism, girls education was quite a bit better than most of China’s comparing peers because on a socialism that education was free in a way can look at it Cuba, you know, as a situation as a comparison.  Cuba’s literacy rate and education rate is quite a bit higher than, you know, most of its peers, in terms of when we compare linkage to the economic development.  And then starting from 1980 and 1990 when Chinas economy takes off.  The government started push for the nine-year mandatory education, you know, everyone should go to school, yes.  You know, girls had a much higher job per hour rate.  Then at the end of 1990, especially after the Asian economic crisis government saw that higher education is a main area to development for two purposes.  One is to accumulate a human capital.  The second was say hey you can absorb the extra labor at the time in economic situations.  So just like you, I think probably the, whenever we have an economic downturn more people would apply to school here, as well.  So, China’s high education expanded like crazy.  So back – at the end of 1990 the annual enrollment to college was roughly one millionish (sic), less than one million and by 2007ish (sic), if I get the number right, it was already getting close to six – five to six million.  Right now, it’s already – right now close to eight million per year.  

CHAMBERS:   Wow.  

CAI:   So that’s what the – the expansion –

CHAMBERS:   In higher education, so?

CAI:   In higher education alone.

CHAMBERS:   Undergrad, PhD’s, whatever, okay.  I got you.

CAI:   No.  No.  Higher education.  The new enrollment what I’m – that’s just the new enrollment per year.

CHAMBERS:   Got it.  

CAI:   Jumped from less than one million to seven million in about a – in just one decade.

CHAMBERS:   Wow.  

CAI:   Yeah.  And the more significant in this process is there are now more woman students in college than – than male counterpart.  

CHAMBERS:   Wow.

CAI:   We know girls are smarter than boys.

CHAMBERS:   Absolutely.

CAI:   In many ways.  Yes.

CHAMBERS:   Are you married?  You must be married.  You married?

CAI:   Yes.  I am.

CHAMBERS:   So am I.  You’re – see, yes.  

CAI:   Yeah.

CHAMBERS:   Right answer.

CAI:   Yeah.  So, they outperform us.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   In many ways.  Because of – in the old days because of all kinds of restrictions they were more, you know, China is not exceptional.  There were more male students in college than female students.  But, you know, right now there are more female students in college than male students.

CHAMBERS:   Wow.  Well, that’s good.  So again, yeah, that’s contributing to having their — women are just like you know I don’t necessarily need to be married at, you know, 24.  I ‘m going to graduate and I’m going to get a job and I’m going to start making money, you know.   And that has huge implications.  It’s exacerbating the problem, I’m imagining.  

CAI:   That – that –

CHAMBERS:   It’s – it’s increasing the problem

CAI:   That’s huge, you know.  They not only financially, economically independent.  Their mindset is very different.  The – the – the priorities for their life is no longer just to have, you know, carry a baby or bare a baby for someone else.  You know, it’s still –

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   — China’s, I think is still, it’s a male lineage, patriarchal system is still there and in the old days, the (inaudible) local living arrangement was very typical basically female tend move into male side of family and living together with old generations.  Now that kind of pressures no longer there.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   And, the other interesting thing as you mentioned that Chinese girls are delaying their marriage.  Their delaying their child baring and they’re also, you know, there’s a still a sort of hypergamy, female hypergamy basically in the marriage market they tend, you know, I think it’s again, it’s not unique to China.  People tend to (inaudible) marriage.  People tend to, would like to marry someone sharing the same interests and similar social economic status, similar education and but you know the hypergamy is females tend to marry someone in China.  Interesting that including Chinese marriage law there’s unequal age.  Female can, I think the legal age of marriage in China – at least — there’s a difference if I – I need to – I need to check this, that male is 20, female is 18 so there’s a roughly two-year difference.

CHAMBERS:   Right.  Okay.

CAI:   Yeah.  So, there’s a hypergamy basically people are looking for a partner that is a little bit older, probably more established economically –

CHAMBERS:   Yep.

CAI:   — and better yet, if we don’t have a better education or other things.  

CHAMBERS:   Or maybe just a little more mature?  Because men – we don’t – we tend not –

CAI:   That’s right.

CHAMBERS:   — to mature.

CAI:   So there are all kinds of those things coming –

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   — to play.  So, there is a mismatch in the –

CHAMBERS:   Right.

CAI:   — you know, marriage market thing and because, you know, they are now more women in college if they want to marry someone, have, you know, better education achievement it’s almost impossible to find.  At least –

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   — in America.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   Yeah.

CHAMBERS:   So, all right.  So, let’s flip this – let’s look ahead, 25, 30 years.

CAI:   Yeah.

CHAMBERS:   Let’s start out with, okay so, we got a lot less marriages.  A lot less babies being, you know, born and raised.  I’m imagining it’s going to – it could be, from what I — again, what I read is a lay person, is it really look that bad or what’s the – let’s talk about that.  Because that’s the part that I want to know more about.  Like because, again we, you know, we hope people navigate retirement and leading up to it.  And that runway is, you know, if somebody is retiring at 62, 65 today.  They’ve gotta (sic) expect to go out 25, 30 years of retirement so this is a really critical stage in Chinas development and United States and the Western World and obviously, the Globe, but, you know, the investors in the United States of America – that’s what I’m trying to get to.  So where – what do you think’s going to happen and what are you sure that’s going to happen?  You know?

CAI:   So, I’m quite sure is what’s going to happen in the next, let’s say, you know demography’s kind of funny business.  We – it requires a longer-term perspective because every generation is (inaudible) 25 to 30 years.  Everything, a baby born today, will become labor force 25 years away –

CHAMBERS:   Right.

CAI:   — from now.  And it, but and the same time we know the labor force 25 years from now should already be born.  So, we can easily track them right now so we know that China is going to in terms of demography’s not working in its favor in many ways.  So, let me give you a very simple number.  Back at the end of 1980, early 1990 the number births per year in China was over 25 million per year.  Right now, it’s less than 15 million.

CHAMBERS:   Wow.

CAI:   Okay.  So –

CHAMBERS:   Wait.  Wait.  That was is in 1990?

CAI:   That’s right.  Early, yeah, let’s put it 1990, yeah.

CHAMBERS:   Wow.

CAI:   So, you can see the (inaudible) and the other way to look at it is very simple.  We demographers use a number called babies per woman.  And it requires every woman to have on average 2.1 babies to replace the population itself.  And if it’s what a truly one child policy, basically every generation would shrink by 50 percent.  

CHAMBERS:   Wow.

CAI:   And the Chinas fertility right now is more like 1.5ish (sic).  So that means every generation will shrink by 25 percent.  But China is not alone.  You know, Japan has been going on like this for 50 years.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.  And – and I said this to another guest that we had on and they are really – Japan is very focused on robots

CAI:   That’s right.

CHAMBERS:   They are very focused on robots so they’re –

CAI:   That’s right.

CHAMBERS:   — but anyway, go ahead.

CAI:   Yeah, so and I think in most, you know, (inaudible) country are in this, you know, below replacement territory, basically by natural production, itself.  We, the population would not – the population would be in the negative growth territory, including the United States.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   You know, the United States is unique because we have so many immigrants, including myself.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   I came here, yeah and the immigrants tend – because, you know, immigrants tend to be young and tend to coming from somewhat less developed area and they probably, you know, more likely to get married rather quicky and having kids.  So, you know, even with this — with the influx of migrants, US fertility right now is already replace – below replacement right now.  It’s more like 1.7ish (sic) and my prediction is it will – it will continue to go down.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.  Okay.

CAI:   So, the same social forces, you know, apprised to almost all the developing country.  The — all the industrialized country.

CHAMBERS:   Okay.  Hey, by the way, do you have any – I’ve heard that – that Russia, terrible demographics and but is there any place in the world, one or two countries that are doing really, really well when it comes to replacing – replacement babies?

CAI:   I think – I don’t, you know, right now with COVID, I don’t know.  COVID would –

CHAMBERS:   Oh, that’s true.

CAI:   — throw a wrench —

CHAMBERS:   Yeah, yeah, yeah.

CAI:   — into everything but France was one of example.  As one of, you know, an example that as a society puts quite a conscious effort to boost its fertility.  So, France is doing quite well in terms — it’s close to twoish (sic) by last check.  But the interesting story about France is French have been pushing for boosting its fertility for almost a century.  If you go back – it was a rivalry between France and Germany and France was a country that saw the earliest fertility decline in, you know, modern history.

CHAMBERS:   Wow.

CAI:   So, they have been pushing for this change and they have the most, you know, generous social support for mothers.  

CHAMBERS:   Right.  All right.  

CAI:   Another story is in France is, you know, again it’s immigration.  France, you know, this is kind of an interesting area.  We don’t know that much about how much of the contribution from immigrants.

CHAMBERS:   Right.

CAI:   Yeah.

CHAMBERS:   How is – do you have any sense of Chinas immigration?  Do you think that they might have to open up and bring in more people?  And will anybody come?

CAI:   So, Chinas immigration policy is very restrictive and for obvious reasons and you know because if the country we would have too many people to start with and it was more or less a country for quite a bit of time, although, you know, China has its own minorities and they tend to not to – tend living in certain areas.  And but underneath it, that will (inaudible) a sizeable shift over the last few decades.  So, for example that they were sizable amount of immigrants, legal or illegal, coming from southeast countries, particularly Vietnam into China into, you know, as labor migrants.  And they also, you know, quite a bit of concentration of migrants from Africa.  They started as traders in Southern China. I don’t, you know, but the truth is we don’t have good statistics, you know, the Chinese government does not publish those numbers.  

CHAMBERS:   Wow.

CAI:   Yeah.  And but, you know, the truth is given Chinas size, we cannot, I don’t think anyone would, you know, foresee that immigration will be main source of Chinas population surprise.

CHAMBERS:   Yep.  Probably neither Japan.  Japan is – maybe Japan in the future.  But they historically have been very against immigration, so.

CAI:   That’s right.  So, but Japans at least opening up right now.  They are opening up to immigrants quite a bit more and after China sending, you know, students and labor immigrants still, you know, as a sending country to Japan.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.  I’m actually pretty bullish on Japan.  I think that, you know, they’ve had a lot of – they’ve had 30 years of a lot of, you know, their economy has not grown but I think there’s what we call green shoots coming on in Japan, so.  But we’ll see.  Let’s talk about, and I don’t know to what scope you can talk about it but what are some of the economic implications within China?  I mean, one thing I can think of is if you have less workers generating less taxes but you have more pensioners that’s a big problem.  

CAI:   That’s right.  That’s exact – I think most people are looking to this area and right now the Chinas so called two sessions.  Two – you know, Chinese congress, they meet only once a year.  It’s in session right now.  

CHAMBERS:   Yep.

CAI:   And the discussion is China will, I think finally raise its retirement age.

CHAMBERS:   What is it now?

CAI:   It is – right now it’s probably surprised to hear that, again, that gender –

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   — it’s very much a gendered thing.  Fifty-five for woman.  Sixty for men. 

CHAMBERS:   Yep.

CAI:   Okay.  And they are going to gradually raise it probably to 65 over the next, you know, decades or two or so.  So clearly everyone says the problem there is sort of like a rising, you know, just a little bit like the climate change.  It is the same – the water level is rising.  It’s slowly.  It’s not going to kill anyone right immediately but if we, you know, don’t do – take any measure eventually all the – everything will be under water.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   Yeah.

CHAMBERS:   Are you – are you, I mean, you’re from China.  Does this scare you?  I mean this has got to be, I’m sure you have family over there, I mean. I don’t know if scare is the right word but.

CAI:   I think, you know, sort of the perspective is somewhat different. So, I grew up in China.  At the time China was indeed very poor.  I still remember when I was a child, you know, we eat meats like every once in a while.  We had meat, like a pork or fish, those kinds of protein every once in a while.  And it’s – so the – I think aging is not as, you know, in comparison, it’s a much better problem.  At least the world in terms of material and foods and all the other things are much more abundant.  It’s not like, you know, starving famine type of situation.  

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   Yeah.  And it’s also – there’s also sort of macro and micro disconnection in this ageing process.  If you talk to anyone in China, I think probably the same thing in almost every country.  You know, we here talk about the challenge of social security and Medicare and but if we say hey, let’s raise the retirement age.  People will probably say, why me?  

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   Why me?  Oh, and if in the corporate world in China, it’s very brutal and for younger generations they probably say hey, you know those people you should of retired early so you can leave those provisions for us.

CHAMBERS:   Yep.

CAI:   (Inaudible).

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.  Now that’s something I didn’t really think about because, you know, if they increase this from 60 to 65, even in just a decade or even maybe twelve – that’s a pretty short timeline. 

CAI:   That’s right.

CHAMBERS:   And, yeah, so that further like, that can – that could cause some – that could cause some social problems.

CAI:   That’s right.  So, tensions right there.  So, everyone at macro level says this a problem and the government should do something that society should do something but when come to the individual decision, whether you should, you know, if I were in, let’s say, in my 55 or 56, why should I wait another ten years to retire instead of five years to retire?

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   And if, you know, someone working together with younger generation, they can not wait for me to say you should be after because we can (inaudible). 

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.  Get out old man.  You’re done.

CAI:   Yeah.  So, the competition is truly broader.  For example, I hear like in Huawei you’ve probably heard about it in this company.  I think that they sort of (inaudible) people and I think the policy was still like if we are in forties, you probably should think about leaving the company because it’s brutal.  It’s not eight hours per day, five days per week.  It’s more like, you know, 12 hours per day, six days per week.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   Yeah.

CHAMBERS:   And then – and then, so you do that until your 40 because you can’t do it anymore because it’s so brutal and then, what is – you know, what happens?  Do you create a lot of entrepreneurs or, you know?  It’s going to be, that’s – that’s –

CAI:   So, I think that – so that’s exactly my point is the demography never a simple determinant.  You know, it’s not like Japan.  Yes, people attribute Japans slow growth to its population itself.  But we know that the thing is much more complicated, you know, in Japans slow growth because of all kinds of economic policies made in the process and the choice Japanese people made in the process.  You know, I think for example right now, as of what I can see, people are clearly become – people not only living – they are living longer.  They are also becoming healthier.  

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   That means they can, there’s a good potential to be more productive.  That’s first.  Second is that this economy, I think the United States is the same.  You know, we say US economy is predominantly a consumer economy.  It’s hard to spend our time and money to make the economy running.  For example, being a tourist.  Being a tourist, itself does not produce anything.

CHAMBERS:   Right.

CAI:   But it will increase productivity for the other sector of the population.  So, if we – I’m not an economist but this, you know, how to rearrange this economy, make it moving, you know, make it running well across a big society, that’d be great.  So, I think the opportunity is clearly there.  If you’re looking to investment for sure, the tourist industry in China, you know, the travel industry is clearly booming.  

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   And it’s, you know, I can clearly say at least 10, 20 years down the road it will continue in this trajectory.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.  And you would think that China’s going to move, you know, we used to be – we used to manufacture lots of stuff in this country.

CAI:   That’s right.

CHAMBERS:   And obviously, China manufactures – their the factory of the world, right?  But you would think more and more they’ll get into, more and more intellectual creation.

CAI:   That’s also part of why the tension, for example, I think just the last few days, there was a report about the AR research. China’s clearly pouring lots of resource into it and if you try enough, this is like venture capitalism basically.  You know, you try to, you know, throw all the things on the wall.  Something will stick.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   Yeah, and China is clearly doing it and in terms of manufacturing capacity.  That’s, you know, I think it’s a sad story that, you know, more than one year in this pandemic we still rely a lot of like the masks –

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   — and all the other things.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.  

CAI:   And China clearly has the capacity to boost its manufacturer, you know, to produce all those things.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.  Let me ask you a question.  Is China as big a threat as the media puts it and, you know, are we in the United States justified to launch in this trade war?

CAI:   I think its justified to be concerned.  Clearly, it’s a very, you know, China is a very different system socially, politically and economically.  And but, you know, it really depends on how we, you know, perceive, you know, we foresee what kind of world we want to live in.  You know, I don’t think, you know, in terms of threat of China based on my reading, China does not have – at least Chinese people, I know of does not have the intention to take over the world.  And most of people, you know, in my circle and my friends and I grew up in rural part of China. They still want to see their kids come to this country to, you know, get a education.  To, you know, come as a tourist to stay, you know, this is still a beacon on a hill.  

CHAMBERS:   Yep.

CAI:   I don’t think, you know, it’s threatening us in that way.  

CHAMBERS:   Right.

CAI:   But, yeah, true, it’s right of everyone to be concerned.  It’s changing the, you know, the political and economic order of the world.  And yes, Chinese people seems more willing to through, you know, to induce something we think almost unbearable.  They work 12 hours a day or six days a week, seems like they are willing to do this.  That sort of undercuts all the social welfare system we tried to build here.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   Yeah.

CHAMBERS:   Well, that’s an interesting – yeah, I – to me, it’s like when you have a country of what, 1 and ½ billion people roughly, or is it – what is it up to now?

CAI:   1.4 right now.  You’re very close.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.  So, 1.4.  You have a lot of people just to deal with that, let alone trying to like go out and dominate the world.  The other thing is, is that I always – they need us.

CAI:   That’s right.

CHAMBERS:   They need us.  And also, you know, they like those container ships going around the world.

CAI:   Yeah.

CHAMBERS:   And like they don’t really have a Navy that can go – I mean they do and it’s very large but they don’t have the, what’s called the blue water navy of any great – and so like, you know, they need us to make sure that the waterways are on so they can get those container ships and they don’t have those –

CAI:   Yes.

CHAMBERS:   — this thing doesn’t go anywhere, right?

CAI:   I think that’s a very good point.  For example, the tension in South China, say right now the – one of the major arguments is like, I don’t know the statistics – exact statistics, it’s like 80%, you know, the traffic goes through that area.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   The vast majority is connecting the world to China.  China does not want to blow that up.

CHAMBERS:   No.  I mean, there’s going to be conflict for sure, and who knows, you know, where that goes.  And we have – you know here we have to keep an eye on it.  And also, you know, they need to reform, and I don’t know if this will ever happen but there’s a lot of opportunity to invest there.  But there’s not a lot of transparency and they need our capital.  They need our capital to grow.  And we have a lot of it.  I mean, you know, our clients or all these baby boomers that are retiring —

CAI:   That’s right.

CHAMBERS:   — and everybody that’s coming, you know, there’s going to be a lot of money to invest.

CAI:   That’s right.

CHAMBERS:   Will there be access to the opportunities?

CAI:   Yeah.  If China can manage and maintain its growth rate, let’s say in the five to six percent territory, I think for sure by the nature of the economy.  That investor will go there.  We will flock, you know. No matter whatever the restriction the government tried to put on.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.  Well, this – I guess I covered everything here.  I don’t think I exactly asked all the questions that – look how organized I am.  I like wrote it out.  It’s – printed it out.

CAI:   I know, you are very – I think probably the way I answer your question because that – the history is a little too long so I went down to, you know, try to cover it.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.  No, I love it.  I, you know, to listen to somebody who really knows this specific subject this well, it was a great opportunity and, you know, I just think its really interesting topic.  All right.  The last few questions.  These are big pressure questions.

CAI:   Okay.

CHAMBERS:   All right.  What are you reading, streaming or, if you listen to podcast, what are, you know, what are you – what content are you consuming right now?

CAI:   So right now, I think, you know, this is our admission season so the last two months has been super busy for me but, you know, my last, you know, like 30, 40 minutes before I go to sleep, I’m still laboring through Obama’s great book, “A Promised Land.”  It’s a great book to read.  

CHAMBERS:   Okay.

CAI:   It’s (inaudible) and sort of for me to learn about how Americans system, you know political system works.

CHAMBERS:   Okay, cool.  

CAI:   So, yeah, but, you know, I’m sort of very slow.  I have – I don’t have the time and energy to sort of read it right through.

CHAMBERS:   Got it. Got it.  Okay.  And then, if we weren’t in COVID times – prior to COVID, where – where in Chapel Hill would you like to go out to eat?

CAI:   I, you know, tend to, you know, for example go to for my lunch, because I go to work on the UNC campus so I go on Franklin and I like those lite, Asianish (sic) – Asian fusion, you know, meal places like Spicy 9.

CHAMBERS:   Nice.

CAI:   The bowl place, gee I forgot the – because I never needed to remember the name.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah, yeah.  I got it.  Just give me the number 6.

CAI:   That’s right.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah, I got it.

CAI:   That’s right.

CHAMBERS:   So you’re cooking at home mostly?  

CAI:   I’m cooking at home so and you know as a something that I consume is I often, when I cook, I have my podcast thing, you know, the ear piece on and I listen to Marketplace everyday.

CHAMBERS:   There you go.  You know what?  I’m kinda – I’m that guy too.  That’s funny.  Yeah, because I listen –

CAI:   Relatively speaking short like 30 minutesish (sic).

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   And they cover most of, you know, major event during the day.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   That’s happening during the day.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.  Hey, one last question and I didn’t – so you’re obviously an educator.  You’re a teacher.  I bet you can’t wait to get people back.  Do you teach in a classroom as well or are you strictly a researcher, or –

CAI:   So, I teach and I feel very sorry for our students.  And it’s very, very hard for them.  Learning by looking at a screen is very, very different than, you know, without interaction, I think some things – you simply don’t feel the urge to know – to get to the bottom and, you know, a lot of things require live discussion.  

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   And, yes, the zoom is great but, you know, I get tired by like the third hour in the day.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   Yeah.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah. It’s going to be nice.  But do you, you know, I wonder if it will impact this distance learning, you know, I’m going to be actually talking to a professor in a couple weeks about the model.  The business model and really, you know, will we see some impacts because of this.  And, you know –

CAI:   I think some element will stay like for example we now almost put everything online and that’s quite a bit of labor for us but, you know, at the same time it has a potential to reach a large audience and people can study at their own pace.  So, and those materials, assume will stay online for longer time.  But I think, you know, learning – college is not just learning from the books.  And it’s more about., you know, you find your comrades, you know, to –

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.  That’s –

CAI:   — work out something together.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.  I mean, you know, you and I are about the same age.  You know how this goes.  There’s a – you can learn stuff but, you know, the networking, you know, it is what you know but it is also who you know.

CAI:   That’s right.

CHAMBERS:   And there may be, you know, yeah, I feel terrible for – I’ve got two high school kids and it’s been a mix –

CAI:   Even harder for them, I think

CHAMBERS:   Yeah, well, no actually the elementary kids or the kids with special needs in those families, you know, I just have so much, you know, I throw so much love to those people because this has been a tough, you know, year.  But –

CAI:   I think especially people in a front-line worker –

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   — they don’t have the resource to start with and they have to work.

CHAMBERS:   Yep.  Yeah.  It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how this all plays out but –

CAI:   That’s right.

CHAMBERS:   Well, Jong, I really appreciate it.  I really, really appreciate it and maybe – lets stay in touch because maybe in another year, I’ll call you back and we’ll kind of revisit.  You’re quite the resource and have really kind of broken this down a little bit more than I have before with other guests so I want to thank you for that.  And good luck and I hope that in the fall you are back in front of students.

CAI:   Yeah.  I cannot wait to get my –

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   — vaccine.

CHAMBERS:   Yeah.

CAI:   Yeah.

CHAMBERS:   We’re getting close.  And then maybe next year, like have a little bit more specific answer for me for restaurants.

CAI:   Sounds good.  Sounds good.  Yeah.

CHAMBERS:   And also, I want a good recipe out of you next time we talk, okay?

CAI:   Okay.  Sounds good.

CHAMBERS:   From your grandmother or something all right.

CAI:   Yeah.

CHAMBERS:   All right, well, Jong, thanks again.

CAI:   Okay.

CHAMBERS:   Enjoy the sun.

CAI:   Thank you for having me.

CHAMBERS:   Thank you.  I’ll be in touch.  Thank you.

CAI:   Okay.  Bye.

CHAMBERS:   Okay bud. Bye bye.

Background Information:

Yong Cai – Full Bio
Yong is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina’s Population Center. Cai’s research focuses on China’s one-child policy and its implications for fertility and social policies. His work has contributed to an emerging consensus on China’s fertility change and the impact of the one-child policy. The consensus on these issues, to which Cai contributed, provided the empirical and scientific foundation that persuaded Chinese government to end the three-decades long policy. Cai continues to monitor China’s fertility in the post- the one-child era, but with a new focus on international comparisons on sustained low fertility and population aging, both from a micro perspective about individual responses and family dynamics, and from a macro perspective about social welfare regimes and public transfers.

Trevor Chambers – Full Bio
Trevor joined Olde Raleigh Financial Services in January of 2015 and his primary role is new business development and marketing.  Prior to joining the firm, Trevor spent 12 years working at his family’s restaurant, Raleigh’s Bella Monica Cucina & Vino. “Exceptional service, no matter the industry, is paramount and we attract clients who value and take comfort in being taken care of.”