People walk in a public park in Beijing on April 15, 2023. InternationalIndiaAfricaThe China vs. India population contest has been an intriguing phenomenon for decades, as the two countries boasting the largest populations vied for top spot. Already in late 2020, it was evident that India was geared up to outpace China, with western media reports eagerly snapping up the story.The United States has been hyping up the fact that India is on track to surpass China as the world’s most populous nation, “equating population size with development achievements”, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said on Thursday.The population of India will reach 1.4286 billion by mid-2023, which will be about 2.9 million more than China’s 1.4257 billion, according to the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) “State of World Population Report”. This has prompted Western media, according to CCTV, to latch on to the story to further Washington’s agenda.
“The United States is stepping up efforts to contain China's development and advocate further decoupling and found new hype points from the United Nations report," the broadcaster said.
It added that such hype, “lacks a basic understanding of the law of population development. With the development of human society today, the decrease in birth rate and decline in willingness to bear children are common problems faced by the whole world.”Western media reports on China’s population were accused of seeking to “bad mouth” Beijing.”They slandered all the way and China has developed all the way, creating a miracle of sustainable and stable economic development with a huge population,” the broadcaster argued.Indeed, the so-called population race between China and India has been the subject of eager speculation in the Western press of late. Both China and India boast the largest populations in the world. In 1980, China reached the one billion milestone. India secured the spot later – in 1997.Demographic trends showed already in 2020 that India was poised to overtake China in total population by 2026. The UN State of World Population Report indicated this could happen sooner – this year.At the end of last year, China had 1.41 billion people. This is 850,000 fewer than the end of 2021, according to data by the National Statistics Bureau. This population ebb was the first to be registered in the People’s Republic of China since 1961. That year had been the final one of the period known as the Great Chinese Famine. Furthermore, according to the National Statistics Bureau data, the percent of the working-age population (16 to 59 years in China) shrunk to 62 percent from around 70 percent a decade earlier. © AFP 2023 / WANG ZHAO Two elderly women perform a dance at a park near the Forbidden City in BeijingTwo elderly women perform a dance at a park near the Forbidden City in BeijingChina previously adhered to the strict “one-child” policy from 1979 to 2015. The temporary measure was introduced to prevent overpopulation and famine. Under this policy, urban families only had the right to have only one child, while rural families could have two if the first was a girl.In 2013, Chinese authorities eased the restrictions. Couples, where at least one of the spouses was the only child in the family, were allowed to have a second child. Later, in 2016, all couples were allowed to have a second child. In the summer of 2021, authorities approved the adoption of amendments to the law on population, allowing families to have a third child, and canceled all previous fines and payments.Amid released data, some Western analysts have been gloating over what they brand as a looming loss by China of its population dividend, suggesting that it might result in profound economic woes.Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin offered a robust response to such reports, telling reporters that population dividends were rooted not only in quantity, but also quality.
"Population is important, but talents are also important… China has taken active measures to respond to population aging," Wang told reporters on April 19.
AsiaThe Great Fall: Demographic Crisis Takes Toll on China, Population Ebbs for First Time in Decades17 January, 08:57 GMT