For a long time, China has been the most populous country in the world. But recently, demographers say the CCP’s harsh zero-COVID policy may have deeply affected young Chinese from having children and accelerated the population decline.
Some analysts have pointed out that this trend not only damages the Chinese economy, but also threatens the CCP’s military might. This major weakness has been exposed as the competition between the U.S. and CCP has become increasingly fierce.
During the lockdown in April and May, the “We are the last generation” hashtag went viral on Chinese social media. The voice of the “last generation” as they call themselves, is to point out how helpless Chinese youth is against the CCP.
“The Last Generation” comes from a video. The video shows officers of an apartment residential committee along with the police, wearing full protective clothing and demanding that the neighbors of the confirmed positive-COVID person be quarantined. The young man who answered the door said that the nucleic acid test results of the whole family were negative, the police had no right to take them away.
The police then pointed at him and threatened: “If you refuse to go, you will be punished by the police. This punishment will affect three generations of your family.” The man replied: “Then this will be the last generation of my family, thank you.”
This video made many young Chinese people feel the same way. According to Reuters, Claire Jiang, 30, who works in the media industry, said she no longer wanted to have children after witnessing the Shanghai lockdown.
“I don’t want my children to live in a country where the government can come and do whatever they want,” Jiang said.
According to Deutsche Welle (DW), a young woman by the name of Wang, also said that implementing the zero COVID policy would mean a possible ban may happen, which makes her “very, very worried about being pregnant.”
Wang said that if you cannot go out for medical appointments while pregnant, it is likely that an accident will occur, and after giving birth, if you have to go to the hospital often, it will also have a great impact.
Wang said, “Recently, there have been a few cases of accidents due to not being able to go to the hospital in time.” Most people in the neighborhood, she said, only follow orders, “the state (party) is above everything else.”
Demographers said the CCP’s uncompromising zero-COVID policy may have caused profound damage to the Chinese people’s willingness to have children.
During the lockdown, people lost their income and did not have access to health care or food. Chinese authorities even forcefully broke into homes and forced people into isolation huts, including the elderly and unattended children. At the peak of the pandemic, authorities even made the absurd decision that if “one person is positive, the whole building is isolated.”
Demographers say that in such an event, people feel that their lives are out of control, which in turn affects their birth plan.
Yi Fuxian, a Chinese demographer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in the United States, points out that the CCP clearly values itself over family.
Yi compared data on infant TB vaccinations, marriage registrations, and maternal and infant products found on China’s major search engines. He estimates that COVID-19 reduced the number of Chinese births by 1 million in 2021 and 2022, and that the situation may be worse in 2023.
According to the United Nations, China’s population growth figures have fallen 94 percent, from 8 million a decade ago to just 480,000 last year. According to official figures from the CCP, by the end of 2021, 16 of China’s 31 provinces and cities had a dwindling population, and 11 provinces and cities had a birth rate lower than the death rate.
For the CCP, that means a rapidly shrinking workforce. Previously, a research team from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences predicted that by 2100, China’s population would drop to 587 million, less than half of the current level.
According to British weekly The Spectator, in China today, every 100 Chinese people of working age only need to support 20 retirees. If current trends continue, by 2100, every 100 working-age Chinese will have to support 120 retirees.
The Spectator believes that the demographic crisis also means that China could struggle to withstand a military attack and slow economic growth. Some analysts point out that China’s future economic growth rate will remain at 2% to 3% for a long time.
Reuters also said that in the past year, the CCP has adopted a series of measures such as cutting taxes, extending maternity leave, increasing health insurance, subsidizing housing, supplementing funds for third children and suppressing the situation of expensive tutoring. However, the measures to increase the birth rate are still very limited.
According to statistics, China has one of the lowest birth rates in the world and it continues to decline. This rate dropped to 1.3 in 2020 (meaning every woman has 1.3 children on average in her lifetime) and continued to slide to 1.15 in 2021. This number is not only lower than 1.6 of the United States and Australia, but also lower than 1.3 in Japan.
In February, a survey (PDF) published by the research group Yuwa Population Research showed that China’s cost of reproduction relative to GDP per capita is almost the highest in the world. At the same time, the willingness of Chinese women to have children is the lowest in the world.