People pressure in China

Guest post by chinadialogue intern Guo Xiaohe

On April 28, the results from China’s 6th National Population Survey were announced, revealing the total population of China to be 1, 339, 724, 852. This is an increase of 73.9 million people on the 5th National Survey taken a in 2000 – an average annual increase over the decade of 0.57%, with the average growth rate down 0.5 percentage points.

According to the survey results, the People’s Daily reported, 51.27% of the country’s population is male and 48.73% female. 49.68% of the total population lives in urban areas and 50.32% in the countryside. As regards the population of a fixed address, the top five most populated provinces are Guangdong, Shandong, Henan, Sichuan and Jiangsu.

The director of China’s National Statistics Bureau, Ma Jiantang, said: “China’s population continues to maintain a low birth rate, but the development of China’s population, economy and society is currently facing contradictions and challenges, categorised as: the acceleration of China’s ageing population, the vast scale of the floating population and the population’s gender imbalance. Also, in comparison with 2000, China’s urban population has increased by 13.46% points, explaining the fast pace of China’s urbanisation and continuous improvements in modernisation and industrialisation.

When interviewed by the People’s Daily, Di Zhenwu, principal of the Population and Development Studies Centre at the Peoples University of China, said: “ To limit the economic and social pressure on the environment, the population should not grow too fast. However, at the same time, a quick cut in growth should not be advocated, as this would go against population structure optimisation.”

Others have different feelings on the survey’s results. Some are concerned about China’s ageing population, and others predict that the results will lead to the relaxation of the One-Child Policy within the next five years.

On the Financial Times’ Chinese website, columnist Ye Tan wrote: “China’s birth rate is slowing down, however the population is still huge. Industry has become a massive strain on the environment – bringing it almost to the brink of collapse.” Therefore, she “does not support the relaxation of the One-Child Policy.”