Lawmaker floats proposal to tackle shrinking population

Wang Qingchu
China's National Health Commission is considering a proposal to eliminate the cap on the number of children families can have in Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning provinces.
Wang Qingchu

China’s National Health Commission is considering a lawmaker's proposal to eliminate the cap on the number of children families can have in northeastern Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning provinces.

The proposal was made in response to the region's shrinking population — where there's been an exodus of people to more prosperous areas — as the once resource-rich area faces economic transformation.

The commission said governments in the northeast region should estimate population changes, study and implement supporting policies and assess any ensuing social risks, after which a plan to totally relax birth restrictions could be drafted.

But the commission said people's willingness to give birth has been low in the region as it already has a looser policy that allows couples in border areas to have three children, one more than in other parts of the country.

Commission officials attribute the low birth rate to issues such as rising costs of living, a lack of supporting facilities like nurseries and obstacles childbearing poses for women’s career development.

China has seen a declining number of newborns even after relaxing its one-child policy in 2016. Newborns decreased from 17.86 million in 2016 to 14.65 million in 2019, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Although the NBS hasn’t released the figure for 2020, in a report analyzing newborn babies’ names issued by the Ministry of Public Security, just over 10 million newborns were registered with hukou, or permanent residence permit, of the ministry last year.

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