China’s top health body issued joint policy guidelines on its official website on Aug. 16 to encourage more births as part of the ruling communist party’s efforts to “promote long-term balanced development of the population.”
The document, titled “Guidelines on Further Improving and Implementing Supportive Measures of Active Reproduction,” was jointly published by 17 different departments, including the regime’s National Health Commission, the Propaganda Department, the State Tax Administration, the Ministry of Education, and the General Logistics Department of the Central Military Commission, among others.
It set out 20 detailed measures to boost China’s flagging birth rates and reduce abortions. These measures include increasing child-care facilities and help, offering favorable housing policies to families with multiple children, and creating a “reproduction-friendly employment environment.”
The joint efforts to encourage childrearing is “an unprecedented move” by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), with the regime’s official statistics showing that China is indeed experiencing “a rapid decline in birthrate,” said Chang Feng-Yi, executive director of the Taiwan Labor and Social Policy Research Association, in an interview with the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times.
Low Fertility, Aging Population
China’s official data shows a record low population in 2021, with 10.62 million births in 2021, compared with 12 million in 2020 and 14.65 million in 2019, as reported by CCP mouthpiece Xinhua news agency in January 2022.
China’s fertility rate was 1.16 in 2021, far below the 2.1 OECD standard for a stable population and among the lowest in the world.
Chang believes that the CCP’s official data has been altered to cover up the actual extent of the population crisis. He said it would be a great challenge for the regime if young people are reluctant to have children.
“Our social security system, whether it is social insurance or taxation, depends on young people to support it. As China is such a large country, the aging population problem China faces is definitely serious.”
In addition to the record low birth rate, China’s retiring population is increasing significantly. According to Banyuetan, a state-run political propaganda mouthpiece, the “biggest gray tide ever” is to be expected in the coming decade—people born in the 1960s will retire from 2022, with an average number of 20 million from this age group retiring every year.
The CCP’s most recent data show that 267.36 million Chinese are over 60 years old, accounting for nearly 19 percent of the country’s population.
Guo Shuqing, chairman of China’s Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, told Xinhua in 2020 that China expects “a pension gap of eight to ten trillion yuan ($1.17 to $1.46 trillion)” in the coming five to ten years.
Unwilling to Have Children
In 2021, the Chinese regime further relaxed its family planning policies to encourage people to have three children, responding to demographic changes following many years of its one child policy. However, even the CCP’s Health Commission admitted in May 2021 that “a large portion of families have still decided not to give birth despite wanting another baby.”
James R. Gorrie, the author of “The China Crisis” and contributor to The Epoch Times, wrote in a June commentary for the publication that “two-thirds of mostly women between the ages of 18 and 31 have chosen not to have children.”
“China’s young generation … are refusing to legitimize it [the CCP] by having children,” Gorrie wrote in his article.
In May, a man in Shanghai who reportedly refused to go to a central isolation venue was warned by police that his actions might lead to consequences that affect his family for “three generations.” The man replied: “We are the last generation.” The “last generation” sentiment represents a large number of young people who protest against the lack of dignity they have experienced under the CCP and its draconian zero-COVID policies.
Financial pressure is another reason that young Chinese couples are reluctant to have more children.
According to Radio Free Asia, Chinese netizens responded to China’s August document by saying, “Encouraging fertility is first and foremost an economic issue, not a policy issue, and it cannot be resolved by issuing a document.”
Earlier in June 2021, The Epoch Times reported that the mother of a 12-year-old in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, disclosed that the average annual expenditure she faces to support her child was $12,000, which exceeds the city’s 2020 average personal disposable income (PDI) of $10,700.
Hangzhou is one of the wealthiest cities in China—in 2020, Hangzhou’s urban PDI was the fourth highest after Beijing, Shanghai, and Suzhou, while China’s average PDI was $5,000.
No Dignity or Freedom for Chinese People
Chu Han, China affairs analyst, believes that the CCP’s current policy for encouraging childbirth will not be effective.
When speaking with the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times on Aug. 17, Chu said that no matter what the policy, the communist regime doesn’t give the Chinese people any dignity or freedom, and tramples all over the bottom line of human civilization.
“In 1978, former CCP leader Deng Xiaoping randomly decided on the one-child policy, and he changed the fate of the people of the whole country,” Chu said.
Coerced and forced abortions were implemented from 1978 to 2016, with the regime claiming that its policy prevented 400 million births from 1979 to 2011, The Epoch Times reported in 2014.
Now, seeing that there is a population crisis caused by the one-child policy, the CCP wants to force Chinese people to have more children, Chu said.
“The CCP wants to control the heaven and the earth, and it also wants to control the wombs of Chinese women,” he said, adding, “the Chinese people have no dignity or freedom at all. How would they dare to have more children under such pressure?”
Ning Haizhong and Luo Ya contributed to the article.