China Faces Population Challenges: What's Happening in China?
Learn about China's population changes and economic challenges in 2024. Find out how the government and young people are dealing with the issues. Get the real scoop on the 'China Dream'.
In his New Year's message for 2024, President Xi Jinping talked positively about China's recovery after COVID-19. He hoped that everyone, even those in Taiwan, would get to enjoy the good times of the "rejuvenation of the Chinese nation."
But, let's look beyond the confident words. Despite Xi's control over the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), steering China away from economic troubles is proving to be a big challenge. The expected economic boost after the pandemic hasn't happened, and not-so-good predictions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are making people worried.
More concerning is that after 60 years of growth, China's population is now on the decline. Last year, more people died than usual, and there were way fewer babies born, marking the lowest point for the CCP.
So, what's the big deal? China's workforce is getting smaller, and there are more older people, with 280 million CCP citizens aged 60 or older. Instead of the promised "good times coming back," there's a big issue on the horizon.
This problem started around 1980 when the CCP put in place the 'One Child Policy' to control population growth. While it did help with fewer babies being born, it caused other problems like choosing to have more boys than girls. This aging population is now causing a challenge for the money set aside for people who retire, with over 30% more retired CCP citizens expected in the next decade.
Even though the CCP has recently tried to encourage more people to have babies, it's not working as well as they hoped. Even a rule saying China's 2 million military personnel must have kids hasn't worked. Things like money and rewards haven't convinced people, especially the younger generation who don't like the Party getting too involved in their personal lives.
After a long and not-so-useful lockdown, young Chinese people are resisting the Party's interference in their personal lives. Social media is full of talks about the difference between Xi's 'China Dream' and the tough realities of their lives, even with state censorship.
Life is tough for Chinese graduates too. Last year, a lot of them tried to find jobs, but one in five couldn't. Many who did find work are saying no to working super hard without much reward. They're adopting a philosophy called "lying flat." Xi doesn't like this idea, but the younger generation isn't paying much attention. They're asking questions about whether the way the country is run by one party is still a good idea.
Both in China and among the free citizens in Taiwan, people are skeptical. They don't fully believe in the story of China becoming great again. The big image of the emperor in Beijing is now looking less impressive to many.