Kinesisk biopolitik och det globala befolkningsdramat
Chinese biopolitics and the global population drama
In the spring of 2023, the world press was filled with articles about China’s declining population. In 2022 it would decrease for the first time since the years 1958-61, when Mao’s Great Leap Forward cost the country in the order of 45 million lives.
It was certainly dramatic that the Chinese population started to decline, and that India’s population was now larger than China’s – in April 2023 both countries had a population of just over 1.4 billion, in China’s case declining, in India’s, with its young population, on the way up. However, China’s demographic decline should not really have been big news, since it has been obvious for a couple of decades that this would happen, as a direct result of China’s extreme one-child policy.
China is probably the country in the world facing the biggest demographic challenges, with dramatic consequences in terms of both labor supply and aging, and society in general. However, China’s demographic challenge is not unique. Until 2050, according to UN forecasts, the size of the population is expected to decrease in 61 countries. No less than two-thirds of humanity lives today in countries where the fertility rate is below 2.1 children per woman, the level that is the prerequisite for a long-term stable population. In 2000, the figure was 2.7.
The world is rapidly moving towards aging societies. The patter of children’s feet is drowned out by the clatter of sticks (The Economist 2023). ”In China’s case, this development is already a fact that no party decree rules over. In Shanghai, China’s “most modern” city, a “one-child culture” prevails today. China’s women, an increasingly important part of the country’s workforce, have gone on “birth strike”.
Xi Jinping’s dream of China’s rebirth looks injured, and drastic measures can be expected to reverse the fertility curve. However, no biopolitical solution is in sight, and the country is becoming increasingly demographically inbalanced. What ultimately matters in the prevailing anthropocene era is that reforms are sustainable.