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Empty-Nests in a Large Country :Family Planning Policy Has Vital Bearings in China’s Sustainable Development


In order to maintain a normal replacement of generations, neither increase nor decrease of population at a life-span and death rate currently prevailing in the developed countries, a woman has to have a birth rate of 2.1 on average.

However, due to the accidental death rate and gender ratio of birth rate in China are higher than that of the developed countries, the rate of generation replacement in China should be higher than 2.3 children. Considering the factors of sterility, bachelordom and DINGKs, each of majority of the families in a normal society should give birth to more than 2.3 children, some families give birth to a child or two, while some give birth to 4-5 children. Should the majority of the families of a country decline to give birth to, or can not afford to raise 3 children, this country will loose its vitality for sustainable development.

Population has an internal control mechanism. In ancient times, population was controlled by “left hand” measures (including plagues, warfare, famines and natural disasters, etc.). After the discovery of the Americas by Columbus, the high yield crops of the New World were introduced into the Continent, the grain production increased by several times due to advanced modern agricultural technologies. In addition, the popularization of inoculation of vaccinia and application of penicillin had prolonged the life expectancy in the world from 20 odds in the past to 60 odds years in the present, which caused the population explosion. But the industrialization used “right hand” measures to crackdown population, knock down the desire for reproduction and the ability of raising and breeding. Both measures have kept the size of population in a S-shape diagraph with a stable low population period of several thousand years and a period of sharp increase of about 300 years, followed by a stable period of high population or decline. Along with the rise of human development index (a general index reflecting the level of social development), the birth rate of China would have dropped automatically and not increased unchecked even if China had not adopted the birth control policy, with a maximum population of only 1.5 billion people by the end of year 2005. China’s population by year 2005 might reach 1.4 billion approximately, even though China abandon totally the birth control in 1980, but with a more rational human composition which would be more favorable to the national development.

The population increase in China was not the result of Mao Zedong’s birth control policy, but the result of prolonged life-span of the people. There was “too little death” instead of “too many births”. The anticipated life-span of a Chinese was increased from 35 years of age in 1949 to 68 in 1980.While the population increased from 550 million to 1 billion in the corresponding period. The birth control policy at Mao Zedong’s time had prevented China’s population from continued growth in term of proportion to the world population (from 40% in early 1900s to 22% in 1949 of the world population). In 1949, China’s population was 22% of the world and again 22% in 1980 of the world. The people born in the period from 1950s to 1970s have turned into labor force of today. And they are the real “population dividend”. If the Ma Yinchu theory on population had been followed, about three hundred million (four hundred and fifty seven in reality) people would not have been born in the period from 1959 to 1979.In other word, 2/3 of the China’s population after 1959 must not have been born. Then China must have collapsed due to aging of population, and completely been reduced to a country lack of vitality for sustainable development.

The human population for the last thousands years has been fluctuating at a low level with limited changes in standard of life. In the last 300 years, the population explosion triggered explosion of science and technologies. The increase of population means simply an increase by addition of consumption of the resources available at present; but the importantly thing is that it has helped turn the present non-resources (nitrogen gas and sun-rays) into new energies (nitrogen fertilizer and solar energy). The increase of the new energies has been shooting up in a manner of multiplication. It tells why the standard of life is increasingly improved while population is increasing in recent times. It clearly shows that the scientific advancement and economic development is faster than population growth. Moreover, the population growth is now slowing down (The termination of birth control program can not hold back the dramatic drop of Chinese population), and the science and technology are accelerating. Who can predict a upper limit for the Chinese population.

It is a wide-spread lie to claim that China is overpopulated. The gross deposit of the natural resources in China ranks top in the world: the total area of farmland ranks first in the world; territory and mineral deposits the third; area of forestry the fifth and the fresh water resources the sixth. As the distribution of resources is asymmetrical, the “world average” is meaningless. Lower than the world average does not necessarily mean insufficiency. The population of the five regions including former USSR, Australia USA, Canada and Mongolia is less than 10% of the world population, but they have a land area exceeding 39% of the globe. The population of the regions including USA, Canada, Russia, Australia and South America is 13.7% of the world population, but they have a land area of 36% of the globe. The population of the six regions including USA, Canada, Russia, Australia South America and Congo is 14.5% of the world population, but they have a forestry area of 65.7% of the globe. The population of the eight regions including South America Russia, Canada, Indonesia, USA, Australia, Burma and Congo is 18.8% of the world population, but they own64% of the globe water resources. The population of the regions including Oceania, South America, USA, the former USSR, and Mongolia is less than 14% of the world population, but they have a grassland area of 48% of the globe. The population of the eight regions including former USSR, USA, South Africa, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, German and UK is 13% of the world population, but they own 62.3% of the globe mineral resources. Except for the few countries which are rich in natural resources, China is also in good position in terms of per capita resources. 40.9% of the world population enjoys a per-capita farmland, which is higher than that of Chinese people, but the remaining 59.1% of the world population has a per-capita farmland lower than that of the Chinese people. 16% of the world population has a per-capita mineral resources 8 times that of the Chinese people, while the Chinese has a per-capita mineral resources 1.56 times that of the 84% of the remaining population. The population density of China is 37% of that of India, with a per-capita farmland 2.55 times that of Indian people, and a per-capita cultivated land of 73.5% of that of the Indian people, and a per-capita land for long-term crops 1.13 times that of the people in India, and a per-capita grassland 30.14 times that of the people in India, and a per-capita forest area 2.08 times that of the people in India, and a per-capita water resources 1.24 times that of the Indians, and a per-capita mineral resources 3.55 times that of the Indians. So, China is absolutely a country with “large territory, rich natural resources, and a good per-capita resource”. It is not the “excessive population” but the extensive development that has caused the conclusion “China is lack of natural resources”. It is the policy of agriculture and composition of population that has a vital impact on safety of grain production, not the farmlands. Through the comparison between the countries having rich natural resources and the countries lacking natural resources, it is found that the level of economic development is not fully dependent on the per-capita natural resources, for the population is in fact the No.1 resource. Therefore population is China’s primary advantage. The population size and density are the essential (but not a complete) foundation for China’s development and prosperity. Human resource is the “horse” (which can turn non-resources into resources) while the natural resource is “cart”. It will be “putting cart before horse” if the per-capita natural resource is increased simply by cutting down the population size.

Quite a few demographers claimed that China’s population must be reduced to 7 or 5 or even 3 hundred million. By year 2005, out of the China’s population, 7 hundred millions were born after 1970, 5 hundred million were born after 1978, and 3 hundred million were born after 1988. Assuming that no baby be born starting from now on with an average lifespan of 76 years, the population of China can only be reduced to 7, 5 and 3 hundred million by the years 2046, 2054 and 2064 respectively. But the youngest woman by that time will be 41, 49 and 59 years of age respectively, and most of them will become impotent; and then around year 2085, the Chinese nation will be extinguished. To raise the standard of life by cutting down sharply the size of population and introducing a deformed composition of population is just like to satisfy a craving before death. And if the population of China reduced to 700 million or 300 million or even just dozens of million, the present standard of living could hardly be maintained for a period of no more than several decades or a hundred years with the present non-renewable energy resources (such as petroleum).From a global point of view, the energy resources thus saved by China where no child is born and the nation committed suicide may be sufficient for the rest of the world population to survive for only several decades more. So there is only one way for the human beings to survive and develop: Relying on advancement of science and technology to tap new energies instead of practicing economy. The advancement of science and technology depends on quality human resources with appropriate composition and in adequate quantity. The decline of Chinese population would be a tragedy to the world as a whole.

From a worldwide viewpoint, the environmental pollution is not as bad as people have imagined. The overall ecological condition in China has been making improvement since 1990s. But on the other hand, the environmental condition in urban areas in China is deteriorating. It is resulted from its extensive development, particularly the urbanization. The 2 – 3 hundred million of young and adult rural laborers are a prelude to the highest tide of immigrants in the human history. China is turning into a world workshop and construction site. This process will be accompanied by deterioration of environmental conditions in the urban areas (of course, the deterioration of environmental conditions will be kept to an acceptable extent by modern science and technologies to avoid the “London fog” like that happened in Europe during the times of European Industrialization).The environmental issue will be equally the same with the present urbanization, even if there is no child is born.

The family planning policy had never been justified by scientific studies and verifications before it was put into practice. It had never made any contribution to China’s social and economic development. On the contrary, it has done harm to the future generations: It lead China to rely on material and develop in an extensive way, which has weakened the ability of sustainable development; increased the birth cost and suppressed the reproduction desire and brought China into an age difficult for birth ahead of schedule and tampered the ability of sustainable reproduction; accelerated the aging of population and caused the “aging before wealth”, and made it impossible for China to establish an adequate social wealth security system (At present in China, 9 working people support 1 senior; and only 40 million senior citizens enjoy retirement pensions; It is expected that 2 working people will support 1 senior citizen and 300 to 400 million aged will enjoy retirement pension); and slowed down the urbanization process and reduced the creativeness and productivity; smashed the traditional culture based on sound family structure; completely changed the composition of world and Chinese nationalities (The proportion of Chinese/world population reduced from 22% in 1980 to 19% in 2005 and again to 15% and dropped sharply later. According to Li Xiaoping et., the demographers, it should be reduced to 3% of the world population; In the five years from 2000 to 2005, out of the newly born children in China, 42% were minorities);increased the gender ratio; lowered the population quality; increased the family risks; degraded the national defense potential; weakened the security along the borders of China; deepen the contradiction between leaders and the masses; damaged the image of China in the world and threatened the social stability.

The family planning policy caused deformed family composition with smaller family size. As a small income can meet the basic expenditures of the family, the increase of payment is far behind the economic growth. As a result, the majority of national GDP was spent on the administrative cost (which was increased by 100 times from 1978 to 2004), monopoly enterprises and capitals. The proportion of the wages of Chinese people in the GDP is dropping. It is only 12% now (It is almost 54% - 65% in the other countries), while the income of the urban residents is 22% of GDP. Under such a “parasitic economy”, the normal consumption is suppressed and the real estate, education and medical industries earned a big profit. All of these have given rooms to corruption, shrinkage of consumption, widened gap between the rich and the poor, export of products at a sale price (Everybody in the world, except the Chinese people, is enjoying the “population dividend” of China); The low domestic demand has resulted in low employment. The load on the common people is increasing. Should the family planning policy be terminated in 1980, with the growth of basic demand of the families, the wage proportion to GDP would be multiplied. Although the rate of woman employment might be thus reduced (which can also ease the pressure of employment; but at present the woman employment in China ranks 17th in the world) due to increased birth rate, the standard of life of the people had been much higher than that of the present, with a rational relationship between consumption and production and high employment opportunities; Out of the excess population, about 30 million(less than 50 million) people born in early 1980 entered the labor market. It is a low ratio compared with the 900 million working population, and it has little impact on the employment. The laboring force of this age is highly required, in other words, the population of 20 years of age will not be competitors to the people of 50 years of age. The unemployment of college graduates today is mainly caused by excessive enrollment at colleges. The enrollment from 1998 to 2006 was 5 times greater. This big shoot up would present great difficulties to employment in any county. The excessive enrollment of college students disregarding the population composition will cause the colleges to go bankruptcy due to lack of source of students.

As closely related with interest and power, the family planning policy can not be terminated as if it had stepped into a pair of magic red dancing shoes. The Family Planning Committee works out data to justify its necessity. Each year the birth rate is increased by 50% so that the birth rate of 1.2 – 1.3 obtained from the actual survey will appear to be 1.8. The mist over the Chinese population is a man-made mist. The China’s population in 2005 was only about 1.25 billion instead of 1.307 billion as claimed by the State Statistics Bureau of China. Following the proposal recommended in the Study Report on National Population Development Strategy (hereinafter referred to as the Report), there is hardly any change in China’s population policy. The Report predicts that under the present policy, China’s population will hit 1.5 billion in 2033. According to this prediction, a population increase of 13 million will have to be realized in 2006, but information available in the State Statistics Bureau of China indicates that there would be only a growth of 6.92 million maximum (in fact 2-3 million will be possible only). So it is obvious that the difference between the result of prediction for 1-2 years in the Report and the reality is too great, let alone the remote futures. At present, about 12 million people were born yearly with a death toll of 10 million. Along with the increase of aged people, the death toll will shoot up rapidly. China’s population growth is nearing negative. If the current population policy is continued, the peak of China’s population of 1.3 billion can not be reached, not to say 1.4 billion and never the 1.6 billion as claimed by the leading demographers with the Family Planning Committee.

The competition among nations is in the final analysis the competition of birth culture. It is the traditional birth culture (family culture) that has made China the No.1 population country. By the modern “scientific” standard, this culture has undoubtedly many defects, but it has successfully made the culture and population of Chinese nation go on (Many cultures of other nations have died out); with the productivity in ancient times, the human reproduction was like risk avoidance in emergency. It would be impossible to keep population, not to say the other objects, to continue if the present “perfect and fair” culture and system had been adopted. However, the industrialization has altered the traditional patterns of families and shaken the two pillars of the Chinese birth culture (ancestor culture and the feudal ethical code), which has resulted in the lowest birth rate of the Chinese cultural zone (including Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, the Singapore, Hongkong and Macao) in the world. Compared with the declined birth rate in Japan and the Four Asian Dragons along with their social development, the birth rate in Mainland China, following the termination of family planning program, would maintain at 1.8 (far below the generation replacement level). The birth culture of the rest of Chinese culture zones escaped the intentional damages. The damages to the birth culture have been passive. The traditional birth culture of the Mainland China had experienced three-fold damages: A. Blows received from modern family pattern and economic system which worships material production; B. Strikes from the authorities like that happened in the former USSR and other socialist countries; C. “Creeping flea effect” in birth psychology produced by the one-sided propaganda for family planning of several decades, the upper limit of population and extreme low birthrate. Therefore, even if the family planning program is given up, China will not get a birth rate like that in Japan and in the Four Asian Dragons when they had an economic development speed similar to that in China today. This has been proved to be true by results of repeated birth desire surveys. The population issue has become the most urgent problem and there is no time to loose again. China’s population policy needs a substantial, not a micro-regulation such as “two-children and delayed childbearing”, change in orientation. It will be an arduous task to rebuild the birth culture and encourage childbearing.

A sound population composition is the essential conditions for economic development, grow-up of the country and establishment of rational retirement pension system, but it is not the full conditions. A deformed population composition will be surely the vital condition for economic depression. In recent years, the annual birth rate in China has dropped to 1.2 million (which is much lower than that in 1940s), out of which, female children amount to hardly 6 million. While now India has 24 million births annually, out of which, 12 million plus female children, meaning the material reproduction (manpower) and the human reproduction (fertile women) will double that of China in the future. At present when childbearing is encouraged, one woman in Hongkong may give birth to 0.95 children, while in Taiwan and South Korea (both of which are leading Mainland China by more than 20 years in terms of economy), one woman is entitled to give birth to 1.1 children. If only the family planning policy is terminated without provision of encouragement for birth, each of the present 5 million (the number of fertile women is no more than 5 million, less the sterile women) female children born annually in China will give birth to 1.2 children on average, Then the newly born children will be 6 million in number every year; but there will be 20 million of death toll each year. Around year 2040, there will be 25 million death tolls every year (There were 25 million of births in mid-1960s yearly.) with a population reduction of more than 10 million people.