A Father’s Day advertisement in China encouraging people to take advantage of the three-child policy is facing a public backlash, with critics saying the video only interviewed men and offered no substantial support for women.
The video, by short video platform HaoKan Video which is owned by search company Baidu, was released last week to celebrate Father’s Day, which was on Sunday. It had circulated on Chinese social media over the weekend and was widely criticised.
The ad interviewed eight fathers who showed overwhelming support for the three-child policy, which was released at the end of last month by the central government, as a way for the government to combat an ageing society and declining population.
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The policy has been met with national resistance, as many young people, faced with high pressure, housing prices and insufficient social benefits are unwilling to have children.
Fathers in the video listed their reasons for supporting having a third child, addressing some of the concerns raised by the public earlier, when the policy first came out.
On the issue that education in China has become so “involuted”, meaning that resources have become so strained and the public is caught in meaningless competition, the first father in the ad said “As long as we insist on not being involuted, then nothing can make us”.
Other fathers suggested that the women should exercise and eat nutritious food to have a healthy baby, even if they might be getting older; and that some women could also use having a third child as an opportunity to change careers.
The video was met with overwhelming criticism that it addressed none of the women’s concerns about having another child.
“When men are able to have babies, then you can start talking about having a third child,” one said on Weibo. “You don’t understand how difficult this is for women.”
“All the questions raised in the video were realistic ones, but none of the answers were practical,” another said. “There’s no good solution to these issues. Having a third child will lead to immense pressure on the mother’s mental and physical health.”
Baidu did not respond to an interview request from the South China Morning Post.
However, some showed support for the advertisement, including Yang Yexin, CEO of advertising company TianYuKong, which some alleged on Weibo is the company that produced the ad. TianYuKong did not respond to an interview request from the Post.
Yang said on Weibo that a healthy society should tolerate voices that support the three-child policy.
“Since the policy was released, there’s only been voices against it online, nothing in support ... I think this ad is the bravest, most meaningful advertisement of 2021,” he said.
Yang was met with backlash too, as commenters asked him what his company has done to support women to have a third child, such as providing benefits or providing suitable job opportunities.
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