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China's population to be 65% of India's by 2050: analyst

(Global Times)    08:46, July 10, 2018

A Chinese expert has called for an end to China's family planning policy, claiming that the country's population will only be 65 percent of India's by 2050.

China has entered a low fertility trap and that its aging population will impede economic development. China should make tremendous reforms to its social structure, and the first step is to end the policy, Yi Fuxian, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told the Global Times.

If China maintains its fertility rate of 1.2 (which is unlikely) by 2050 and 2100, China will account for 65 percent and 32 percent, respectively, of India's population, Yi said.

China introduced its one-child family planning policy in 1979 and replaced it with the two-child policy in January 2016.

Zhang Weiqing, then head of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, told a press conference in November 2006 that for over 30 years, the family planning policy has averted an estimated 400 million births, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

However, Yi argued that the family planning policy has helped the country reduce the number of births by 400 million as of 2018, instead of 2005.

Yi also added that "if the country had not implemented its family planning policy, China's fertility rate would nevertheless have dropped along with its economic development," citing the Human Development Index (HDI).

HDI, published annually by the United Nations Development Program, provides broad measures of well-being worldwide.

The index uses three criteria: life expectancy, education, and purchasing power parity.

Yi claimed that the index is inversely proportional to the fertility rate. He added India never implemented such a policy, but its fertility rate dropped from 5.6 in 1970 to 2.18 in 2017.

"China's HDI far exceeds India's. If China had not implemented the policy, the fertility rate's decline would also be faster than India's," Yi said.

A Bloomberg report in May said that China was planning "to scrap all limits on the number of children a family can have," and predicted an announcement in 2019.

The National Health Commission has not responded to the report so far.

"Since the 1970s, due to the rapid population growth, China implemented the family planning program. Without the policy, it would have been difficult to stimulate China's production capability and drag the country out of the low income trap," Ma Li, former head of the Beijing-based China Population and Development Research Center, told the Global Times on Monday.

"The policy is crucial to helping the country restart its economic growth engine," Ma said.

China's young generation puts more emphasis on realizing self-worth. Along with the widespread coverage of the social security system, Chinese people no longer rely too much on their children. The decline in the fertility rate is inevitable, Ma said, adding that it's time for the government to adjust the family planning policy.

The adjustment aims to optimize current demographics, turning the government's function from managing to serving, Ma said.

The government should soon release several policies to reduce the burden of raising a family, such as establishing more kindergartens and lowering school fees, Ma said.

China had more than 230.8 million people aged 60 or above at the end of 2016, 16.7 percent of the country's total population, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said in August 2017.

By international standards, a country or region is considered to be an "aging society" when the number of people aged 60 or above comprises at least 10 percent of the total population. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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