Chinese social media have banned an economist from their platforms after he sparked controversy with a proposal to print money to boost fertility in China.
Ren Zeping, a well-known Internet economist in mainland China, said recently on social media Weibo that, for China to have up to 50 million new children in the next 10 years, the government would have to print 2 trillion yuan ($315 million) per year.
Weibo and WeChat have banned Ren’s accounts following his remarks. So what did he say that was sensitive enough for him to be censored?
According to Epoch Times, Ren said that the reason for China’s currently low birth rates was due to the high costs of living and parenthood. He, therefore, advised that establishing a fertility encouragement fund can stabilize growth in the short term and boost domestic demand. However, it can improve the supply side, optimize the population structure, and help national rejuvenation in the long run.
Regarding the whopping figure of 50 million new babies, he explained that the total fertility rate in 2021 was 1.1 with around 10 million newborns. Because the inter-generational balance demands 15 million births each year, it means there should be an additional 5 million births per year.
He proposed that the funds for boosting more births if China followed the same patterns as member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development should account for 2-3% of the country’s gross domestic product. Because China’s GDP is 110 trillion yuan, the encouragement fund should be 2 trillion yuan.
Ren said because China is facing economic turmoil, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sharp decline in real estate, enterprises, families, and now even the authorities don’t have the money for such spending. So to have enough money, the central bank will have to print money.
He said China used to print money to stimulate real estate in the past and was able to boost housing prices. So it makes sense that more births should effectively be encouraged using the same method.
The economist also conducted a survey in addition to speaking out his views. As of Jan. 11 morning, the survey found that among 7,822 people, 62% supported the Birth Encouragement Fund.
In a separate survey about reasons for not wanting to have children, 43% of 13,000 respondents agreed that the cost of raising children was too high; 27% said it was because of high house prices, and 16% worried about the next generation.
Why was Ren Zeping censored?
According to Tang Ao, an economic and political analyst living in the U.S., Ren’s idea exposed China’s current financial difficulties.
Tang said that the economic strategy proposed by Ren Zeping reflects an unspoken consensus among economists within the Chinese regime. That is, its economic model has come to an end.
However, Tang disagreed with Ren’s proposals, saying that “printing money to have babies” would bring higher inflation. In the past, China’s inflation and debt risks were mainly salvaged by real estate, but the sector has now been more fragile than ever and can no longer function.
Tang said Ren’s remark is a helpless idea of economists under the Chinese regime’s system.
No matter how much money is printed and inflation rises, real estate and other industries will suffer from both demand and supply. As a result, the Chinese economy may soon fall into a recession, and the regime may only sustain it for a short time.
So printing money for a younger generation would be like committing suicide.
Others are also suspicious if money could solve China’s shrinking population crisis. According to Epoch Times, the younger generation in China are refusing to have children because the government is not a humane regime and disregards human rights and dignity.
The younger generation in China does not want children, and it is not money that can solve that problem. For example, many pregnant women have miscarriages because the hospital refuses to accept them.
Some media have reported that the Chinese environment is too challenging for raising children. For example, contaminated milk powder, toxic vaccines, and unsanitary food could make it harder for children to grow healthy.
There is also the regime’s household registration system, which makes life unequal. As a result, people in rural areas cannot enjoy the benefits of urban people. Likewise, people in third and fourth-tier cities cannot enjoy the opportunities of first and second-tier cities.
Beijing’s authoritarian leadership is another driver for people not to welcome new babies into life. It persecutes religions, minorities, free speech and constantly becomes more comprehensive in its surveillance of citizens.