China’s population crisis revealed that President Xi Jinping’s preparation has not kept pace with the long-term needs of society and has failed to avoid tough choices in coming decades over rival priorities, The New York Times reported citing experts.
China was aware of the demographics crossroads and their policymakers have already warned the government about the same. They have even asked them to prepare for this. Chinese state media have also urged young couples to seize the opportunity to have two or three children but still couldn’t stop the crisis.
Recently, on Tuesday China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released a report which stated that their population is shrinking for the first time in more than six decades in 2022, which is a serious demographic crisis for the country with significant implications for its slowing economy, CNN Business reported.
According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the population fell from the previous year by some 850,000 people as it recorded to 1.411 billion in the year 2022. In front of Xi, there were many problems like long-term economic, and social pressures over its “zero-covid policy” and definitely the shrinking of the population.
According to the New York Times, Xi has taken steps to build a strong social safety net and announced a new phase of “high-quality” growth less dependent on legions of cheap, abundant migrant workers from the countryside.
“The population issue is the most important issue for the future and yet the one that is most easily neglected,” Ren Zeping, a former chief economist for the Evergrande Group, a massive housing developer, who has studied the looming demographic crunch, wrote in a widely circulated comment after the figures were released on Tuesday.
Ren called for more energetic policy-making, including birth subsidies, stronger paternity and maternity leave, and improved protection of women’s rights in the workplace.
After the latest population statistics were released, many suggested in social media posts and in interviews that the government’s moves may be too little and too late.
To many, the government has barely begun to tackle the deeper reasons many young couples choose to have one child or none at all, like the costs of rearing and educating children and the lack of substantial government support, especially for women, at home and in the workplace, as per The New York Times report.
“I’d like to have a kid, but the living pressures are just too much,” Wu Yilan, a 34-year-old shopkeeper in Beijing, said in a telephone interview.
She said she had discussed it with a former boyfriend. “If I settle down with a partner, I’d probably think that one child is enough.”
The anxiety among the Chinese population is also mounting as the birth rates have also slowed in recent years.
The fall in China’s population in 2022 and the statistics of nearly 60,000 people dying due to Covid in China have also increased their frustration, reported The New York Times.