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A Big Country in an Empty Nest

1 October 2007

Doctor Yi Fuxian was trained both in China and the United States, and currently is a member of the Society of Chinese American Professors & Scientists. His newly published book-length research paper titled A Big Country in an Empty Nest (《大国空巢》) questions China's birth control policy, criticising it for bringing no benefit to the present but being harmful to the future.

The author argues that China’s rapid population growth in the sixties and seventies of the last century was mainly the result of increased lifespan, rather than high birth rates. In 1949, the average lifespan of Chinese was 35 years; thirty years later in 1980, it nearly doubled to reach 68. During that period, the population grew 45 percent from 550 million to 1 billion. But even so, when it is viewed in the broader context of world-wide population explosion at that time, China’s growth rate was relatively slow. In the 19th century, China accounted for 40 percent of the world’s population; in 1980, it reduced to just 20 Percent.

Doctor Yi further believes that the birth control policy is the main reason for China entering into an aging society before achieving modernization, which places a huge burden on China’s old-age pension system. Currently in China, nine people in work support each pensioner, considering the fact that at the moment there are only 40 million elderly people in urban area eligible for regulate pension payments. Imagine in the not too distant further every old-age pensioner in China can only be supported by two people in work, as the number of the age-pension receivers increases to 300 million or 400 million!

It is misleading that China is overpopulated, says the author, as a matter of fact, the so-called recourse shortage mainly derives from underproduction and mismanagement. Besides, he points out, the economic development is not solely determined by natural resources per capita, human resources are in fact the greatest advantage China has had.

He warns that the country is now on the brink of negative population growth, as industrialization has changed the traditional family mode and shaken the two pillars of China’s reproduction custom, namely, ancestral and ethical cultures. Even if China terminates the current birth control practice by now, he bemoans, it could hardly prevent China’s population from a dramatic decrease in the future.

Lately there has been a lot of talk of sustainable development. But the question is, the author demands, if individual Chinese family lines are broken, how can a nation be able to collectively secure its future? If there are no people there, what is the economic growth for?

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A New Way to Increase China's Population

They look like twins, but they are not twins, 'cause one is a Chinese robot designer, and the another is a robot he designed. We're not going to tell you which one is which, 'cause we don't know.

Maybe one day each old-age pensioner in China can be supported by nine robots in work, yeah, way to go.


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