China on Wednesday sought to downplay India overtaking it as the world’s most populous nation with 142.86 crore people, saying that it still has a “quality” workforce of close to 900 million people to provide a strong impetus for development.
According to the latest United Nations Population Fund data, India surpassed China to become the world’s most populous nation with 142.86 crore people. China which has a population of 142.57 crore has now become the second most populous country, the UN world population dashboard showed.
Asked for his reaction to the report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here “when assessing a country’s demographic dividend, we need to look at not just the size but also the quality of its population”.
“Size matters, but what matters more is talent resource. Nearly 900 million out of the 1.4 billion Chinese are of working age and on average have received 10.9 years of education,” he said.
For those who have newly entered the workforce, their average length of education has risen to 14 years, he said.
On the ageing population, he said China has implemented a national strategy to respond to population ageing, including a third-child policy and supporting measures to address demographic changes.
“China’s population is over 1.4 billion. Those in the working age is close to 900 million and that group of populations is 10.5 years of education on average,” he said.
Wang said China has taken active measures to deal with the ageing population.
“As Premier Li Qiang pointed out, China’s demographic dividend has not disappeared, and our talent dividend is in the making. The driving force for China’s development remains strong,” he said.
According to a new UNFPA report, 25 per cent of India’s population is in the age group of 0-14 years, 18 per cent in the 10 to 19 age group, 26 per cent in the age bracket of 10 to 24 years, 68 per cent in 15 to 64 years age group, and 7 per cent above 65 years.
In March, Premier Li Qiang while addressing the media after he took over the post said, “when assessing demographic dividend, we shall not just look at the sheer size of the population but also look at the scale of high-caliber workforce.” On China’s worsening demographic crisis due to falling birth rates and an increasing old age population, Li said China has nearly 900 million working-age population and 15 million people join the workforce annually, he noted.
More than 240 million people have received higher education in China, and the average length of education received by newcomers into the workforce has increased to 14 years, he said.
China’s demographic crisis deepened in 2022 as its population entered a negative phase with the birth rate declining by 8.50 lakh people to 1.4118 billion.
China’s overall population declined by 850,000 people year-on-year to 1.4118 billion in 2022, putting the natural growth rate at negative 0.6 per 1,000 people, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in January this year.
According to the National Health Commission at the end of 2020, there were 264 million people over the age of 60 in mainland China, and that total is projected to surge to 400 million and account for more than 30 per cent of China’s population by 2035.
China’s demographic crisis was largely attributed to the decades of One-China policy implemented by the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) to control the population.
China’s concern at present is not simply a declining population, which was accentuated by the decades-old one Child, scrapped in 2016 but a rapidly ageing population. As per the revised policy, Chinese could have three children.
China implemented a third-child policy in May of 2021 and rolled out a series of stimulus measures to boost population growth. A number of cities, provinces and regions across the country have rolled out incentive policies such as issuing subsidies to families with a second or third child.
According to the NBS announcement, the country registered about 9.56 million new-borns last year, down from 10.62 million in 2021.
China’s birth rate stood at 6.77 births per 1,000 people in 2022, down from 7.52 in 2021.
China’s total population size peaked in 2022, much earlier than expected, which means the country’s population will maintain negative growth from 2023 or enter an era of negative growth, Cai Fang, former deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said previously.
Yuan Xin, a professor from the Institute of Population and Development at Nankai University’s School of Economics, told the official media in January that in 2022 negative population growth is the inevitable result of the country’s long-term low fertility rate, and China’s population has entered an era of zero growth.
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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)