China is still desperately seeking to recover from its disastrous 'one-child policy' which was officially ended in 2015 and replaced by the current two-child policy, yet still by 2019 the country reached a decades low of 14.7 million births after years of observable stark decline, still significantly below what's required to maintain the size of the current population and economy.
With this aim in mind and amid the continued panic in terms of the need to replace the future workforce and compete with other industrialized nations, especially its superpower rival the United States, there are new calls in the country to "fully liberalize" its draconian birth-control policy, which remains reputed as the harshest in the world.
A recently released paper published by the People's Bank of China urges a drastic overhaul of the policy to actually encourage "three or more" children per household. It called for a total lifting of any restrictions in order to "fully liberalize and encourage childbirth" to reverse the current four-year straight decline in births nationwide.
A key section of the 22-page document spells out: "In order to achieve the long-term goals in 2035, China should fully liberalize and encourage childbirth, and sweep off difficulties (women face) during pregnancy, childbirth, and kindergarten and school enrollment by all means (possible)," the four central bank researchers wrote in the English language abstract.
In particular the authors, who noted they don't necessarily represent the official views of the central bank, worry that the United States' continued influx of "skilled immigration" combined with China's accelerating rate of ageing population (and with a little over 70% of the total population in the labor workforce based on 2019 numbers, compared to a US rate of 65%) will leave China's economy at a huge disadvantage:
"For [China] to narrow the gap with the United States in the past four decades, it relied on cheap labor and huge numbers of people... What will we rely on in the next 30 years? This is worth our thoughts," the study said.
"If there’s slight hesitation, (we) will miss the precious window of opportunity for birth policy to respond to the demographic transition, and repeat the mistake of developed countries."
Charts via BBC/World Bank figures.
The study further comes after recent forecasts by the United Nations suggested that over the next thirty years China's population is expected to decrease by over 30 million people; and simultaneously the US is expected to gain 50 million by 2050.