Recently, demographers said that the Chinese authorities’ strict Zero-Covid policy may deeply hurt the willingness of young Chinese to have children and accelerate the population decline.

Seeing the difficulties brought about by the Zero-Covid policy, many Chinese women are worried about having children.

In an interview, Claire Jiang, a woman of 30, said she no longer wants to have babies in China. She said, “I definitely don’t want my children to have to carry the uncertainty of living in a country where the government can just come to your door and do whatever they want.”

Likewise, Wang 王, a woman living in Shanghai, pointed out that she was apprehensive about pregnancy. Wang said that if you cannot go out to seek medical treatment during pregnancy, it can be dangerous. 

She added, “There were a few cases a while ago. Going out to see a doctor in time was impossible. I remember a child who had a fever and wanted to go to the hospital to see a doctor, but the community neighborhood committee refused to let him go.”

During lockdowns in Shanghai and elsewhere, people lost their income, did not have access to healthcare or food, and authorities forcefully entered homes to take people to quarantine centers, including the elderly and children.

Demographers say people’s feelings of losing control over their lives from events like those can significantly affect parenthood goals.

Yi Fuxian, a prominent Chinese demographer, said, “China is obviously big government and small family. China’s Zero-COVID policy has led to a zero economy, zero marriages, zero fertility.”

He estimates COVID will result in 1 million fewer births in 2021 and 2022 combined, and 2023 could be even worse.

A July United Nations report predicts China’s population of 1.4 billion may start to decline as early as next year. United Nations experts now see China’s population shrinking by 109 million by 2050.

A separate United Nations China report said the pandemic had a long-term impact on first births, with women citing financial insecurity, unfounded worries about COVID vaccines affecting fetuses, and difficulties in carrying a pregnancy and taking care of an infant.

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