Three-child policy might not go far enough to counter foreseen economic woes.
The People’s Republic of China might end all restrictions on family size by the end of 2025, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
China ended its long-standing one-child-per-couple policy in 2016, and has since further loosened the restrictions. This spring, the Chinese Communist Party, in response to increasing worry that the country’s population is aging, announced that it would allow couples to have three children.
Butthat might not be enough to pull China back from the brink of a demographic winter.
“Chinese officials are drawing up plans to further loosen birth restrictions and transition toward policies that explicitly encourage childbirth, according to people familiar with the matter, reflecting increased urgency in Beijing as economic growth slows and China’s population mix skews older,” the Journal reported. “Policy makers are discussing the possibility of fully doing away with birth restrictions by 2025, the end of the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s current five-year economic plan, according to one of the people. According to that person, China will likely begin by eliminating birth restrictions in provinces where the birthrate is the lowest before enacting nationwide changes.”
State-run Xinhua news agency last month reported that Chinese Premier Xi Jinping told senior party officials that he regards the fact of China’s aging population as a threat to national security, calling on senior officials to address the challenge.
Any loosening of restrictions would likely be seen first in China’s economically depressed northeast, the Journal said. The region is considered China’s “rust belt.”
In Jilin Province, which borders North Korea and Russia, government researchers recently said officials must encourage childbirth.
“Ending birth restrictions is not enough to reverse the trend of negative population growth in our province,” the researchers wrote.
Reacting to the news in May that three children would now be allowed, some Chinese parents said that they were not ready to expand their families, particularly because of the high cost of living.
Meanwhile, the BBC has reported that Chinese birth-control policies could reduce the ethnic minority population in southern Xinjiang by up to a third over the next 20 years.
German researcher Adrian Zenz concluded that regional policies could cut between 2.6 and 4.5 million minority births in two decades in the autonomous region of China’s northwest, where there have been reports of Chinese persecution of the Muslim Uyghur population.