For the first time in half a century, China has identified a shrinking population. That came to light in an extensive census, and insiders tell the Financial Times.
If the message is correct, it will come as a surprise. Experts assumed that the country’s 1.4 billion inhabitants would not peak for a few years. If the contraction has already started, this could increase the pressure on the authorities to take measures more quickly to turn the tide.
The Chinese authorities already ended the one-child policy in 2016, whereby each couple was only allowed to have one child. That policy was precisely intended to slow down population growth.
The country is now struggling with declining birth rates and an ageing population. This also has economic consequences.
China currently has the largest population worldwide but could be overtaken by India in the coming years. The Chinese authorities conduct a major census once every ten years. That last happened in 2020, but the national statistics office has still not published the results.