Hyping China’s population crisis reflects West’s misplaced concern, misunderstanding of China
Published: Jun 04, 2021 10:40 AM
Photo: Xinhua

Photo: Xinhua

China announced on Monday to further relax its family planning policy by allowing one couple to have three children, with supportive measures announced at the same time. As the decision was released, many Western media outlets that had been hyping up "China's population crisis" seemed to get a life saving straw—they spared no effort to make a fuss of it. 

For example, the New York Times called the decision, "an effort to stave off a looming crisis as the birthrate in the world's most populous country steadily falls." Germany's Deutsche Welle cited an expert as saying that the challenge of population structure faced with China cannot be solved solely by increasing the number of new born babies. 

According to the data of China's 7th National Population Census released on May 11, China still has the largest population in the world. China's 1.41178 billion population is still larger than the combined population of the US and European countries. Some Western elites won't let go any possible opportunity to badmouth China, but this time in terms of population, they have really made so much nonsense. 

In the past 10 years, China has had an average annual population growth rate of 0.53 percent, maintaining a low growth trend. 

By contrast, according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, the natural change of the EU population has been negative since 2012; with more deaths than births recorded in the EU. In 2020, the US saw a decline of 4 percent in new born babies, and the general fertility rate was the lowest rate on record, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

Given these numbers, the media in these Western countries remain "concerned" about China's so-called demographic crisis. But haven't they misplaced the object of their concerns?

Compared with China, where the West says there is population crisis, is the West - which is facing an aging population with a decline birthrate and harmed economic vitality - having "worries of extinction?" 

In many Western news outlets' judgment, China's general fertility rate is lowering. Therefore the rapidly aging population will intensify labor force shortages; which will soon pile pressure on China's economy. They have an argument that the decline of the labor force will put an end to China's demographic dividend. 

However, according to the national population census, the number of people aged between 15 and 59 was 894 million. This means China's labor force is still abundant. Besides, the average age of the Chinese population stood at 38.8 in 2020. This is almost the same as 38 in the US. Meanwhile, the population aged 0-14 increased by 30.92 million, or a 1.35 percent rise, compared to the census data in 2010.  These figures demonstrate that China still enjoys demographic dividend. 

The West is making a fuss with population because they don't believe China can overcome the problems they have failed to address. Nor do they want to see China accomplish what they are unable to achieve. They want to prove their superiority through crises in China.

China's family policy adjustment reflects the country's determination and confidence to deal with the new challenges. The Chinese system makes it possible to make timely adjustments that are future-oriented. This provides constant dynamic for its progress. This is a big difference between China and the Western countries. And this is to China's ultimate advantage. 

By contrast, the West has weaker capacity to deal with challenges and seek changes. But Western elites refuse to recognize the problems in their own countries. They view the current world through outdated lens, and show a sour-grape mentality with issues related to China's development and effectiveness. As a result, the West is trapped in a spiral of increasingly unbalanced development as its prejudice against China deepens. 

In the early days of the outbreak of COVID-19, the West badmouthed China. They didn't believe anything China had done to flatten the curve. But what happened has slapped them in face. Their efforts to smear China didn't help a bit with disease prevention and controls in the West. 

As Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said during a regular press conference, "We will continue to forge ahead along the path that has been proven to be correct. I hope those who made up these China-related fallacies can enjoy health and happiness like the Chinese people and witness together with us the realization of the Chinese dream together."

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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