Something that seemed unthinkable a short time ago is becoming a reality; China, the most populated country on the planet, which under the restrictive policies of the communist regime, limited the reproduction of its population for decades, is now going through a deep demographic crisis. Therefore it is forcing its leaders to take urgent measures to reverse it.

Leader Xi Jinping announced on Sunday, September 16, a series of policies to boost China’s birth rate. 

Several regime officials had previously expressed concern about China’s impending population decline and the possible effects this could have on the economy. However, Xi’s announcement came as no surprise.

“We will establish a policy system to increase birth rates and pursue a proactive national strategy in response to the aging population,” Xi assured during his opening speech at the Communist Party Congress in front of some 2300 delegates. 

China’s demographics

Interestingly, China, with more than 1.4 billion people, is the most populous country in the world. However, its birth rate has been declining year after year. By 2022 it is expected to fall to an all-time low: below 10 million, 11.5% less than in 2020.

In fact, its fertility rate, estimated at 1.16 in 2021, was below the standard set by the OECD of 2.1 for a society to be considered “stable” demographically.

Chinese women have the lowest desire to have children globally, according to a survey by the think tank YuWa Population Research.

High education costs, low wages, and notoriously long working hours are among the causes of this behavior, which affect the desire to start a family.

This forced social structure has led to a smaller young labor force, which usually supports the pension system of the elderly who are no longer working. Added to this drama is the imbalance between the number of men and women.

One-child policy

Contrary to what is happening now, for more than 40 years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) considered the large size of its population as a problem. A stumbling block for its economic development. 

In this sense, it imposed a terrible regulation known as the “one-child policy,” through which a woman was prohibited from bearing a second child.

For decades the one-child policy was one of the greatest causes of suffering for women in China. Since it was strictly enforced in the early 1980s, it is estimated that nearly 400 million children were aborted. 

Efforts to control the birth rate began after the CCP came to power in 1949, but with the arrival of Deng Xiaoping, plans to regulate population growth became more rigorous. 

The campaign used sterilization and forced abortions, coercive measures, and the application of heavy fines. Only some ethnic minorities and, in rare cases, rural families with one daughter were considered for the privilege of a second child.

After 1500 abortions per hour or 13 million per year, as claimed by the Chinese regime, many human rights groups, such as Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Right Without Frontiers, raised their voices to denounce the atrocities of this policy.

In China, sons have traditionally been preferred. They inherit the family name and property and are responsible for the care of the elderly, functioning as a kind of retirement guarantee for the elderly.

With the one-child policy, having a daughter became undesirable, so couples often chose to abort when they learned their firstborn would be a female, hoping for “better luck” in the subsequent pregnancy. As a result, there are three to four percent more males than females.

The family institution in China is in crisis

The family has been the basic social unit upon which great traditional cultures have been built and prospered. Marriage has also become the bond that usually strengthens couples starting a family.

Traditional Chinese culture and the teachings of Confucius considered marriage and family as the fundamental basis of social welfare.

But since the advent of communism and its constant attempt to destroy everything to do with tradition, appreciation for the family has been increasingly eroded.

The last decade has been marked by a deep decline in the number of marriages in China. This social role has deteriorated to such an extent that it is inevitable to predict an imminent demographic crisis.

The year 2021 saw the lowest number of marriages in 36 years, according to China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs (MOCA).

Among the different age segments, the most worrying is that of citizens between 20 and 24 years of age. Only 16.5% are married in this segment, the lowest percentage ever recorded in the country’s history. 

This percentage already signals a 25% retraction concerning the marriages celebrated during 2018 and is only one-third of those contracted during 2005. 

One-child policies have been pointed out as causing a drastic impact on the perception that the population may have about the value of parenthood, the importance of children, and, consequently, also marriage. 

Moreover, there has been a change in the attitude of young people toward marriage. On the one hand, women have moved away from the traditional role of being in charge of the home and raising children to become more educated and economically independent.

A survey conducted in 2021 by the job search site Zhaopin Recruiting indicates that 43.5% of the participating single women prioritized their quality of life over the idea of starting a family.

Finally, it seems that all this effort of the CCP to go against the traditional and the natural today is becoming a great enemy of its stability.

The Chinese economic growth model, based for years on exploiting its citizens, is now in check. Its economy is more unstable than ever, and there is a notable lack of young people due to its population pyramid inverting. 

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