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China on Twitter: Negative population growth for the first time in 60 years, “forcing multiple births will not solve the problem”

A family preparing to leave a photo studio in Beijing (January 17, 2023)
A family preparing to leave a photo studio in Beijing (January 17, 2023)

WASHINGTON — Chinese saw negative growth for the first time in 60 years. This “demographic crisis” has raised concerns among many experts about China’s economic prospects and women’s rights, and “forcing women to have more children will not solve the problem.” But some observers point out that negative population growth gives China an opportunity to adjust its economic policies and reduce gender discrimination in the workplace.

China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced on Tuesday (January 17) that the total number of Chinese at the end of 2022 was 1,411.75 million; There were 9.56 million births and 10.41 million deaths that year, a decrease of about 850,000 in one year. This was the first time since the end of the Great Famine in 1961 that the Chinese population had negative growth.

Elon Musk, Tesla president and Twitter owner, warned: “Population collapse poses a great danger to the future of civilization!” ”

Population collapse is a massive danger to the future of civilization!

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 17, 2023

Aadil Brar, an Indian columnist and current researcher at Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, believes that negative growth and a sluggish economy in Chinese could lead to a change in relations with its neighbors: “India needs to prepare for a China that cannot provide its people with the same high growth as it has been in the last three decades.” Internal grievances will lead to new policy problems that will manifest themselves in foreign policy. ”

Today’s data release by Beijing on GDP and population is a reflection of the long term trend where a new kind of China will pose challenges for Asian neighbours.

— Aadil Brar (@aadilbrar) January 17, 2023

However, some experts believe that if China revises its economic policies and directions in a timely manner, it may be able to help China smoothly survive the crisis.

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Michael Pettis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: “If Beijing succeeds in redistributing income to every household in a smooth way, a shrinking workforce can provide enough growth impetus to domestic demand.” ”

it is also really a long-term problem whose effect will be overwhelmed by the near-term adjustment process. If Beijing succeeds in redistributing income to households in a non-disruptive way, a declining working population can drive more than enough growth in domestic demand.

— Michael Pettis (@michaelxpettis) January 17, 2023

He went on to write, “More importantly, rising direct and indirect wages will force China to invest in increasing worker productivity rather than expanding economic activity and building useless railways that don’t lead nowhere.”

The one-child policy is to shoot yourself in the foot

China’s encouragement of women to start families and its crackdown on the feminist movement over the past few years have also led some observers to worry that this could evolve into China’s preferred strategy for addressing its demographic problem.

Jeremy Wallace, a professor at Cornell University who focuses on China, said: “The dark side is that [China] sees population as a problem that can be solved by encouraging fertility. But forcing women to have more children won’t solve the problem. ”

Hopefully that leads to productivity investments rather than more apartments no one really wants as housing. The darker side is seeing demographics as something that can be fought by pronatalist campaigns. Pressuring women into having more children is the solution to nothing. 2/2

— Jeremy Wallace (@jerometenk) January 17, 2023

One of the issues that the Chinese feminist movement focuses on is discrimination against women in the workplace. Pregnancy often results in female employees losing their original job opportunities or being rejected by their employers.

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Mary Gallagher, director of the Center for China Studies at the University of Michigan, wrote: “Encouraging women to have more children is unlikely to work unless the government also reduces discrimination in the workplace, which is a pervasive problem for women.” I think the decline should be seen as an opportunity for policy change, not just a crisis. ”

With adjustments to productivity, a better protected and prepared older workforce, a higher retirement age, and more automation, China should be able to weather this storm. Encouraging women to have more babies is unlikely to work unless the gov’t also reduces employment 2/3

— Mary Gallagher (@MaryGao) January 17, 2023

China’s population policy has always been closely related to women’s rights. Planned family policies, widely credited with contributing to the current crisis, have resulted in large numbers of forced abortions for women over the past few decades.

China’s negative growth data worries Yun Zhou, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Michigan: “As a demographer who studies Chinese politics, countless ideas are racing through my mind: what this means for women’s bodily autonomy and reproductive rights, and what it means for long-term and short-term political change and social engineering.” ”

As a demographer studying China’s population politics, so many thoughts are coursing through my mind: What this would mean for women’s bodily autonomy and reproductive rights, for long and short-term political change and social engineering. https://t.co/tIIy5yHFTz

— Yun Zhou (@yunjulietzhou) January 17, 2023

Mei Fong, a former Wall Street Journal correspondent in China and now Human Rights Watch correspondent lamented: “There is more evidence that China’s one-child policy is a shot in the foot.” There are so many ways to slow down population growth and boost economic growth without the need for forced abortions and other terrorist measures, but they are promoted as necessary for China. Tragic.

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More evidence CCP shot itself in the foot demographically with #OneChildPolicy. There were many ways to slow population rate + grow economy w/o #forcedabortions + other horrors, yet this was framed as an absolute necessity for China. Tragic. https://t.co/rnUVdzaFxx

— Mei Fong @meifong@mstdn@social (@meifongwriter) January 17, 2023

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