Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Long-term time bomb

Several years ago, a senior Chinese official had an incredibly honest interview with the NYTimes regarding China's slow motion time bomb of a declining population that's really old, something now coming to pass in 2021, a potentially devastating impact on the ambitions of Xi and the well being of the country as a whole. 

To whit.

China’s population is growing at its slowest pace in decades, with a plunge in births and a graying work force presenting the Communist Party with one of its gravest social and economic challenges.  

Figures for a census conducted last year and released on Tuesday showed the country’s population at 1.41 billion people, about 72 million more than those counted in 2010. This was the narrowest increase recorded since the Communist Party conducted its first census, in 1953.

Only 12 million babies were born in China last year, according to Ning Jizhe, the head of China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the fourth year in a row that births have fallen in the country. That makes it the lowest official number of births since 1961, when a widespread famine caused by Communist Party policies killed millions of people, and only 11.8 million babies were born.

The figures show that China faces a demographic crisis that could stunt growth in the world’s second-largest economy. China faces aging-related challenges similar to that of developed countries, but its households live on much lower incomes on average than the United States and elsewhere.

In other words, the country is growing old without first having grown rich.

Yours truly never forgot just how honest the official was and ... he was spot on without question.

End result.

“China is facing a unique demographic challenge that is the most urgent and severe in the world,” said Liang Jianzhang, a research professor of applied economics at Peking University and a demography expert. “This is a long-term time bomb.”

Officials conducting a demographic census in Boma village, where relocated Tibetan people from high-altitude areas live, in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.Credit...Roman Pilipey/EPA, via Shutterstock

A long-time time bomb indeed.

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