November 18, 2002
EBB TIDE:CHINA'S NEW POPULATION PROBLEM: In the process of attacking "overpopulation," China has created other, more daunting, social problem (Nicholas Eberstadt, April 1998, American Enterprise)
While there is little about China's position in the year 2025 that we can predict with confidence, one critical aspect of China's future can be described today with some accuracy: her population trends. Most of the Chinese who will be alive in 2025, after all, have already been born.
The most striking demographic condition in China today is the country's sparse birth rate. Though most of the population still subsists at Third World levels of income and education, fertility levels are remarkably low-below the level necessary for long-term population replacement, in fact. This circumstance of course relates to the notorious "One Child" policy of China's Communist government, applied with varying degrees of force for nearly two decades.
Ironically, by laboring so ferociously to avoid one set of "population problems"-namely, "overpopulation"-Beijing has helped to ensure that another, even more daunting set of problems will emerge in the decades ahead. Those population problems will be, for Beijing and for the world, utterly without precedent. While impossible to predict their impact with precision, they will impede economic growth, exacerbate social tensions, and complicate the Chinese government's quest to enhance its national power and security.
Good look at how quickly the catastrophe can occur. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 18, 2002 9:31 PM