Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Loss of child beyond measure

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It's good to see that the Chinese Government has backed down from its demands for extra compensation for quake victims.

The Chinese had asked for more money for the families of the Chinese victims of the Christchurch quake than those Kiwis and other nationalities will get from our Government and ACC.

The reason? It was all to do with China's one child policy. They claimed their families not only suffered from the pain of losing their only child, but their source of economic assistance in their retirement was lost.

Accordingly, spokesman Cheng Lei said the New Zealand Government should consider providing extra financial compensation to grieving Chinese families.

While one can sympathise with the families' pain, surely losing your only child should not give you an advantage over another family who has similar grief but more children? Having other children is not going to nullify the pain of losing one. It's the Chinese Government's "one child" rule and while there may well be good reasons for the law, it's their policy, not ours.

And if the child is not just a much loved addition to the family but an investment for the future, shouldn't Chinese parents take out a life insurance policy on their golden goose?

In 2006, Chinese life insurance was estimated at just 2.2 per cent of GDP as measured by premiums. And the problem, according to a McKinsey report, wasn't a lack of money - vast numbers of Chinese earn enough to buy insurance - it's just that they either don't understand the benefits or aggressive sales practices have created mistrust among consumers.

Still, all international students have to take out travel insurance before they come here and one of the options is life insurance. Anything can happen and if your economic future was so dependent on your only child, it would be wise to have a plan B.

The Government is offering all those who have lost family members compensation in the form of ACC payouts and Red Cross donations and that seems to be a whole lot more than the Chinese Government gave its citizens after their devastating quakes.

After the Sichaun quake of 2008, where more than 80,000 people lost their lives, the Chinese offered free treatment at fertility clinics for those who'd lost their children - to reverse tubal ligations and vasectomies - as well as a token sum of cash.

After the Qinghai quake in 2010, many young people were killed after a poorly constructed vocational college collapsed. Whatever compensation was offered to those families would be a whole lot less than what Chinese families will be getting from New Zealand.

Cheng Lei said the extra economic assistance would not only be a great consolation for the family members, but would be a demonstration of the importance our Government attached to Chinese students.

Cooler heads have prevailed - the Chinese Government seems to have acknowledged that it needs to get its own house in order before it makes claims on us.

- Herald on Sunday

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