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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 16:28, January 10, 2005
Alarm sounds as the 1.3 billionth Chinese is born
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A little citizen, the 1.3 billionth Chinese on the mainland, was born in the wee hours of Jan. 6, 2005. A resonant cry declared this fact: China has not only fulfilled the objective of controlling its total population within 1.3 billion at the end of the 20th century, but also has postponed by four years the arrival of the time when China's population hits the 1.3 billion mark and the world's the 6 billion.

1.3 billion is a delightful number because it came late by four years, therefore, it appears especially valuable. China has begun to pursue the family planning policy since the 1970s. After 30 years of efforts, it has effectively curbed the too fast population growth. The total fertility rate of Chinese women was around 5.8 in 1970, a married couple giving birth to an average of 5.8 children. Since the 1990s, the fertility rate has been stabilized at around 1.8, or four fewer children were given birth by a couple compared to 30 years ago. Over 30-plus years, 300 million fewer people were born in China, this made it possible to save 7 trillion yuan worth of the cost of upbringing and use it in medical and health services, science, technology and education and social welfare, etc. and, to a certain extent, improved the quality of life of all the Chinese nationals. China has not only safeguarded its rights to subsistence and development, but also has made contribution to stabilizing the world��s population. Just as what a foreign expert says, "Things happened in China, to a great extent, determine what will happen in the world."

1.3 million is also a worrying number. The 1.3 billion people need consumption, education, employment and housing. With the huge figure of 1.3 billion as the "denominator", a "cake", however big, has to be sliced into very small portions. The already-deficient water, cultivated land, forest and other resources will be turned into greater scarcity. The term "vast land and abundant resources" becomes "vast land and poor resources". For instance, China's total population is slightly more than one-fifth of the world's total, whereas its per-capita share of cultivated land is only two-fifths of the world's average. In the 1997-2004 period, China's cultivated land decreased by 100 million mu (15 mu = one hectare) while its population increased by 70 million, such a change puts China in a more straitened circumstance in terms of per-capita cultivated land, thus posing great threats to food safety.

The load of the ecological environment also becomes increasingly heavy. The trend of "partial improvement and overall deterioration" becomes more obvious, limited environmental resources can hardly sustain population growth. The following is a meaningful equation: The figure of 1.3 billion consists of both "enlarged effect" and "reduced effect". This reminds us that at any time when we think over problems or handle affairs, we must not divorce ourselves from the basic national conditions of a large population and poor foundation. Only by making overall planning in handling the relations of population with economy, resources and environment, can we achieve all-round, harmonious and sustainable development.

Viewing problems from the perspective of a population of 1.3 billion, we will come to different conclusions from different angles. Seeing through the appearance of 1.3 billion population, we will get a deeper understanding of the dialectical relations between big and small size, large and small amount and poor and rich. Take the practice of "enclosing land" for development in some localities for example. From a local point of view, the reduction of a small plot of cultivated land seems that it would not affect the country's food security; but from the perspective of the whole situation, if each locality nibbles cultivated land in the same way, then feeding China's population of 1.3 billion would become an extremely big problem. Take the use of one-time wooden chopsticks popular in many Chinese restaurants for another example. Personally speaking, the use of several additional pairs of chopsticks seems to be nothing surprising, but taking the country as a whole, if each person uses such a pair of chopsticks, which, when combined together, would mean destroying a vast stretch of forest. This calculation shows that in a large populous country, a waste, however trivial, when multiplied by the figure of 1.3 billion, would become an astronomical figure. Family property, however tremendous, is insignificant when divided by the figure of 1.3 billion. From a positive perspective, economy and philanthropic act, however tiny, is a shocking wealth when multiplied by the figure of 1.3 billion. For example, in building an economy-styled society, if each factory saves one inch of land, each mu of farmland saves one cubic meter of water, each family saves one kwh of electricity, then a huge amount of resources will be "added" to society; in the face of various kinds of natural disasters, if everybody can lend a helping hand, then the strengths of 1.3 billion people will become an "ark" salvaging the world.

The figure of 1.3 billion represents a terrific answer sheet and an alarm bell that wakes people up.

By People's Daily Online

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