by Chris Gacek
March 18, 2013
The Financial Times has been doing excellent reporting related to Chinese demographics problems. Of particular interest is China’s aging population which has been brought about in large measure to its zero-growth population policies that have been in place since the 1970s. The most important aspect of these policies is the “one-child policy” which mandates forced abortions and sterilizations.
In a front-page article in the FT’s weekend edition Simon Rabinovitch, a reporter in the paper’s Beijing bureau, presented population data obtained from the Chinese health ministry:
China’s one-child policy has been the subject of a heated debate about its economic consequences as the population ages. Forced abortions and sterilisations have also been criticised by human rights campaigners such as Chen Guangcheng, the blind legal activist who sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing last year.
China first introduced measures to limit the size of the population in 1971, encouraging couples to have fewer children. The one-child rule, with exceptions for ethnic minorities and some rural families, was implemented at the end of the decade.
Since 1971, doctors have performed 336m abortions and 196m sterilisations, the data reveal. They have also inserted 403m intrauterine devices, a normal birth control procedure in the west but one that local officials often force on women in China. (my emphasis).
The magnitude of these figures is staggering. By comparison, at present there are 315 million people living in the United States. Rabinovitch does not really tell where the data came from within the Chinese government, but these are pretty specific numbers that make sense. In short, we are talking about a maximum of 336 million Chinese who would be under the age of 42 – the peak working years.