After three decades following CCP’s strict one-child policy, a Chinese province is now offering financial incentives to married couples. Reuters reported that if they have children, they are granted bank loans of up to $31,400, joining other provinces in the battle against a fast-shrinking population,

According to a local government’s statement on Thursday, Jilin, a northeastern province of China, is also providing value-added tax cuts and exemptions to certain small businesses established by couples with at least two children.

The duration of paid maternity leave will also be extended from 98 to 180 days, and a man’s nursing leave will be lengthened to 25 days from 15 as well, the Jilin authority announced.

Together with Liaoning and Heilongjiang, the other two northeastern rustbelt provinces, Jilin is confronting severe demographic troubles. The region’s population dropped 10.3% from 2010 to 2020. Jilin sank 12.7%, as its residents migrated to other provinces for work and couples delayed marriage or marriage plans.

Anhui in eastern China in October also cautioned that its number of newborns might dip 17.8% this year from 2020, extending a “cliff-like” plunge in recent years, Reuters added.

The fertility rate in China slid from 6.18% in 1968 to just 1.35% in 2020, a historic low that will “trouble the country’s economic prospects for decades to come,” warns renowned analyst and author Zhou Xin on South China Morning Post. 

The problem can be partly attributed to the strict population control imposed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for more than three decades, Xin added. 

The CCP forced the people to follow the “one-child” policy, which involved “heavy fines and forced abortions” for lawbreakers during that period. 

And now, facing a fast declining and aging population, Beijing said in May that it would allow married couples to have up to three children instead of two, but in reality, few of them wanted to do so.

According to The Guardian, more young women are pushing back against state propaganda and family pressure, while improving education standards and income levels have delayed marriage and childbirth. In addition, experts say decades of the one-child policy have made single-child households the norm.

“China should have stopped the policy 28 years ago. Now it’s too late,” said Yi Fuxian, a senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and a longtime critic of the family planning policies.

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