Census data has unveiled that China is facing a major demographic crisis. Last week, the Ministry of Public Security released the figures for their 2020 birth registrations, showing there were nearly one million fewer births than in 2019.
There were 10.035 million birth registrations in China in 2020, down from 11.8 million in 2019. The 2019 birth rate was already the lowest in the history of the People’s Republic of China, and 2020 shows that it is continuing to plummet. Additionally, the genders continue to be imbalanced, with 545,000 more boys born than girls.
Peter McDonald, a professor at the University of Melbourne’s school of population and global health, told the Guardian that China’s previous one-child policy has fundamentally changed the country’s culture into one which does not value children. “It showed that the China fertility rate was reflecting what was going on in society, and that was that people only really wanted a small number of children. Even in areas where the one-child policy was not applied, the birthrate was low,” he said. “Secondly, there is a floating population of 200 million people who have to leave their villages and work in cities, leaving their children behind in the villages. That doesn’t place a strong value on the parent-child relationship.”
Xiong Jing, a feminist activist, also told the Guardian that new mothers don’t receive the support they need, with poor parental leave policies, discrimination against mothers in the workplace, difficulties in obtaining child care, and more. “There is a term in China, roughly translated as ‘you raise a child like you have no spouse’ because the responsibility mainly goes to the mother,” she said. “If China really wants to solve this problem they have to put more resources into it.”
Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released their census report, which is tallied once a decade. The population has grown to 1.412 billion people in the last 10 years, the slowest growth rate in 60 years. “China’s population will reach its peak in the future, but the specific timing remains uncertain. It is expected that the total population will remain above 1.4 billion in the next period of time,” NBS chief Ning Jizhe said at a press conference. “The demographic dividend persists, but the working-age population is slowly decreasing year by year, so the structure of the economy and technological development need to be adjusted to adapt.”
At this point, even a complete relaxation of birth restrictions may not be enough to turn the tide, the South China Morning Post reported, citing demographic experts. Guan Qingyou, chief economist and president of the Rushi Advanced Institute of Finance, said he expects the population to peak in 2029, and then begin to fall. Ren Zeping, chief economist at Soochow Securities, however, said the decline will begin even sooner than that. “The ageing population, the declining birth rate and fewer marriages are occurring at an accelerating rate,” he wrote on Weibo. “These are among the largest ‘grey rhinos’ facing China’s economic and social development.”
In 1980, China put its now-infamous One Child Policy into place. It is widely believed that the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), along with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), is complicit in putting the oppressive population control measures into place.
Families who violated the population control measures faced punishments ranging from fines to forced abortions. As Chinese culture has an overwhelming preference for sons, sex-selective abortions became widespread, which led to a devastating gender imbalance. Girls who survived pregnancy were often killed or abandoned. And though the One Child Policy has ostensibly been “relaxed,” not much has changed. China has the highest suicide rate for women in the world, and the gender imbalance between men and women has lead to widespread human trafficking and an epidemic of loneliness and depression for both sexes. Worst of all, millions upon millions of Chinese children are confirmed to be “missing,” aborted due to population control.
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