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China takes action to mitigate looming population collapse crisis

The plan is designed to counter the declining birth rate by pushing for pilot public health programs designed to encourage young families to have more children.

China takes action to mitigate looming population collapse crisis
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
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China is taking active steps to mitigate the looming population collapse crisis amid the country’s declining birthrate, which has dropped to alarming levels for the country that instituted a “one child policy” to limit overpopulation.

A new plan by the China Family Planning Association, which is described as a “campaign of intervention,” aims to cut down on unplanned pregnancies and abortions in teens and unmarried women, with the stated goal of improving reproductive health, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“The plan, posted on the association’s website, was dated Jan. 28 and has been referred to in some Chinese media in recent days,” the Journal reported. The plan also said it was important to “reshape the parenting culture of multichild families.”

The plan is designed to counter the declining birth rate by pushing for pilot public health programs designed to encourage young families to have more children.

According to this plan, the association intends to foster a “positive” family culture of marriage and multiple children, and it intends to do so through education programs, better prenatal and postnatal care, and encouraging both parents to share the responsibility of raising their children.

The association also intends to curb and ultimately get rid of the traditional Chinese practice of grooms being forced to pay expensive “bride prices,” or dowries to their in-laws.

South China Morning Post reported:

Li Yang, director of reproductive health at Amcare Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Beijing, said his hospital has seen the number of infertility cases dramatically increase in the past two years.

He said the average age of patients seeking such help is around 36, but those opting to visit public hospitals may be younger, perhaps 31 or 32. He also said there will be an inevitable increase in infertility cases as a result of the new three-child policy, as people trying to have a third child might find it is not possible as they get older.

Infertility is not just a rising problem in China. Globally, the rate increased from 11 per cent in 1997 to 15.4 per cent in 2018, according to a report by US consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. The range of reasons given included an increase in the average age that couples first try to have a baby, as well as increasingly unhealthy lifestyles and environmental pollution.

In 1991, China saw up to 14 million abortions. That figure has dropped to below nine million in 2020, which saw 12 million births the same year. While abortion remains legal, the Chinese government is now pushing for the reductions of abortions deemed “medically unnecessary.”

China, which once instituted its infamous “one child policy,” and allows families to have up to three children, continues to struggle with declining birthrates that did not improve once the policy was removed.

According to Reuters, China’s birth rate in 2021 dropped to historical lows, declining for the fifth year in a row. The declining birthrate threatens to become a crisis in the coming years. China’s rate of 7.52 births per 1,000 people was the lowest since 1949, when the government’s National Statistics Bureau began collecting data.

“The natural growth rate of China’s population, which excludes migration, was only 0.034% for 2021, the lowest since 1960, according to the data,” Reuters reported.

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