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After aborting nearly a half-billion children, communist China seeks to boost birth rate

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Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Owing to the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) one-child policy, implemented in 1980, as well as to other correlated factors such as a decrease in the number of women of childbearing age and declining fertility, China faces a demographic crisis. The CCP is now, as a result, trying to reverse the damage its past policies have done.

Whereas in 1950, a year after the communists formally took power, China's fertility rate was 5.29, it now stands at 1.16. In other words, as of 2021, there were only 7.5 births per 1,000 people. Fewer than 10 million births are expected in 2022, down from an already historic low of 10.62 million last year.

Reuters reported that this fertility rate is far below the 2.1 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development standard for a stable population and constitutes one of the lowest in the world. The 2.1 figure is considered the standard because it reflects the average number of children required per woman for each generation to replace itself without a considerable influx of immigrants. The fertility rate for the U.S. in 2021 was 1.78.

In addition to discouraging abortion, the communist regime is now introducing financial and institutional support measures for prospective parents. These measures involve tax, housing, employment, and education aids as well as lowered kindergarten enrollment ages.

According to the CCP-controlled Global Times, the objective of this new initiative is to encourage couples to "have a third child" and to "push the government, institutions and individuals to fulfill their responsibilities in creating a friendly environment for marriage and fertility."

Unlike the communists' one-child policy, the new guidelines confer "preferential house-purchase policies to families with more than one child," along with premium education resources.

As the name suggests, the one-child policy prohibited Chinese families from having more than one child. Additional children who weren't forcefully aborted in utero or killed shortly after birth by the state or their parents were denied education and other state-provided services. Parents with more than one child were frequently fined, imprisoned, sterilized, or denied jobs.

Newsweek reported that as of 2021, there were 35 million more single men than women in China, largely owing to sex-selective abortion and infanticide prompted by the one-child policy.

According to the Pentagon's 2020 report on China, the CCP aims to expand its "national power, perfect its governance systems, and revise the international order" by 2049. Its low birth rate and median age (38.4 years) may prove a challenge.

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