With millions of residents, China is currently the world’s most populous country, however, a recent study show that the country’s population is expected to peak in 2021 and fall steadily in the near future according to James Liang, who is the executive chairman of online travel platform Trip.com Group.
In a discussion with the South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Thursday, Liang stated that the number of births across the country has fallen by 20% which is about 10 million in 2021.
In contrast, the number of deaths in the country could be more than 10 million this year alone, Liang added while citing published data from local Chinese authorities.
“That means the size of China’s population has peaked much earlier than previously expected,” said Liang, who has been one of the country’s loudest voices calling for pro-birth policies over the years.
Last year, there were reported 12 million births which was an 18% decline when compared to the year 2019’s 14./65 million birth.
The number is expected to continue to decline in the coming years. With that, the birthrate has dropped to a record low of 8.52% births per 1000 people.
This and other factors are predicted to be a hindrance to the country’s plan for better economic and technological development on the global level.
From a historical perspective, tumbling birth rates across the country show how alarming the country’s population problem has become, according to Liang. “The number of new births now represents only half or a third of the number during the years of plenty,” he said, referring to the early 1990s when China recorded annual new births of more than 20 million.
Henan is China’s third-most populous province and according to reports from the local authorities, births in the first nine months of this have decreased by 18.8% when compared to the same period just a year ago.
Another obvious decline is the birth rate in the central Chinese province which has reportedly been on the decline since the year 2016.
Another decline is from Guiyang, which is the capital of southwestern Guizhou province reporting a 16.8% decrease in birthrate from January of the year up until October.
The story is not the same in every part of China though as there is said to be a severe case of population crisis in eastern Anhui province.
In the southern city of Chizhou, data shows that the number of births in the first 10 months of this year plummeted by 21% from a year ago.
While the Chinese government has lifted its one-child policy embargo on its citizen, the country’s government is said to be drawing up public policies that can help increase the birth rate.
There were reports that the Chinese government is planning on changing the country’s education system which includes shortening the number of years spent in secondary schools to four years from six years while also reforming China’s property laws in order to help the population grow.
Liang also added that plans by provincial authorities to encourage an increase in birthrate may not be as effective as they’d want.
One such plan can be found in the northwest Shaanxi province where the local authority is planning to increase the duration of paid maternity leave to nearly one full year similar to other developed European superpowers.
“That would put the burden on employers,” Liang said. “It could result in discrimination by employers against female jobseekers.”