A portrait of President Xi JinPing overlooks National Day parade preparations. Image: AFP
A few days ago, the world watched in alarm and awe as President Xi Jinping of China, dressed deliberately in a Mao-style suit to invoke memories of the Great Chairman, rolled down the Avenue of Eternal Peace in Beijing to inspect his troops in the biggest military parade in the modern history of the People’s Republic. Top military equipment was on display, ranging from missiles that can hit Guam in minutes to high-tech drones that apparently outsmart America’s products.
Indeed, the entire Chinese nation, whipped up by hysteric non-stop propaganda, was in a state of euphoria. Suddenly everyone became a patriot and if anyone disagreed or was not celebrating the moment of great rejuvenation, they are traitors and deserve to be condemned, reported, or worse, jailed. The whole country is caught up in a patriotic fervor with eerie resemblances to Nazi Germany in 1936 – if you are not with us, you are against us, and you must be eliminated at all costs.
However, this writer, who deeply loves China as an ethnic Chinese himself, believes that the Communists will not have the last word, but instead, they have already written and sealed their doom.
The simple reason for that is demographics. A rising empire that becomes all-conquering can never do so with a rapidly ageing and soon shrinking population. Many Chinese, from the brainwashed masses who believe the one-child policy is a great sacrifice that helped rejuvenate the Chinese nation, to blind high-ranking officials who worship the Malthusian cult of population alarmism, have little to no idea of the population crisis tsunami coming their way. Many brave Chinese who resisted and voiced their opposition to the policy have been silenced, shunned and ruthlessly ridiculed to this very day.
A prime example of this is Mr Yi Fuxian, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Originally from the rural parts of Hunan, China, Mr Yi has written a highly influential book titled Big Country with an Empty Nest(大国空巢)，which could initially only be published in Hong Kong because the National Family Planning Commission in the Mainland hated him for his ruthless exposure and criticism of the one-child policy.
He has since come to the conclusion that China’s population statistics since the year 2000 have been built on false and exaggerated data, and that China’s real population may be 100 million people less than what has been reported by the National Statistics Bureau. The reward for his groundbreaking research and passionate calls to end the inhumane and ridiculous birth restriction policy has been years of personal attacks, ridicule and censorship of him online (his Weibo account has been repeatedly deleted). Only years after his book was published in Hong Kong, was a censored version of his work allowed to be published in the mainland.
Furthermore, Mr Yi and his other colleagues in the fight against the population control machine have found that the UNFPA’s population forecasts for China are based on extremely inaccurate data that are tens of millions of people off from the actual and future situations.
For example: for years, the false total fertility rate of 1.6 to 1.8 were used by both Chinese and UNFPA officials to measure the Chinese birth statistics and make predictions for China’s future population trajectory. The truth is that in both national censuses of 2000 and 2010, the National Statistics Bureau found that China’s TFR stood at 1.22 and 1.18 respectively. Refusing to believe the actual census data, the people with vested interests at the National Family Planning Commission simply “adjusted” the TFR to 1.6-1.8 without offering any credible reason as to why such a huge difference can occur in statistics.
Mind you, this adjustment means that millions of babies were “added” each year to China’s birth statistics and the accumulation of these fake statistics can only mean China’s population is exaggerated by the tens of millions. It can be said that China is the only country in the world with such extremely inaccurate population statistics.
However, when news of this research broke earlier this year, Communist officials rushed to ridicule the story and called it “baseless rumours”. They refused to explain why the statistics between two of their own departments vary so widely from each other, and they also refused to acknowledge that they have been repeatedly and horribly wrong before in terms of predicting China’s population and collecting demographic statistics.
One now widely ridiculed report published by officials in 2013, before the end of the one-child policy, stated that China will have 49.95 million babies born every year if the two-child policy were implemented. Chinese demographers are possibly the world’s worst at collecting and analyzing demographic data accurately, and they are deliberately playing with the numbers because the family planning machinery is instructing them to mislead everyone from ordinary Chinese people to those at the very top of the Communist hierarchy.
Xi Jinping is not completely ignorant of this situation. Against vigorous opposition from within the party, he has decided to lift the one-child policy and has since greatly weakened the power and position of the National Family Planning Commission. By 2018, the Commission had indeed ceased to exist. However, he is still influenced by the population alarmism that is so toxic and pervasive in China, and thus, as of 2019, he is still hesitant on lifting all birth restrictions and ending the wretched population control policy once and for all.
After all, the Communist regime is all about control, and for them, granting people reproductive freedom is a radical step.
In fact they have already lost control of the population situation. Despite the greatly exaggerated population numbers, even the State’s official predictions are that population will start decreasing in the coming decade, and by 2050 China will have at least a third of its citizens above the age of 65, which is way higher than Japan in 2019.
Mr Yi and his colleagues believe the shrinking may have already started or will begin as soon as 2021, and that there is a real chance that by the year 2100, China’s population may fall to around 400 million, which is on par with its population level in 1911, when the Qing Dynasty was overthrown. By then half of its population will be over the age of 65 and China will become irrelevant on the world stage.
With this level of population collapse, by mid-century, China will find it impossible to maintain its current vast security personnel and stability enforcing machine, never mind its pensions or social welfare expenses.
With its finances drying up in the coming decades and human resources rapidly diminishing, it is hard to imagine an extremely elderly China being able to hold onto Xinjiang, Tibet or for that matter, take back the rogue breakaway island of Taiwan. (Taiwan itself is doomed by its own abysmal demographics, which will be explained in another article). China’s military capabilities will also be greatly restrained by its extremely aged population and it is highly unlikely that it will be able to challenge the United States in the long run.
To conclude: in the short to medium run of events, China is able to pose serious threats and challenges to its neighbours and the US in Asia as the last of its demographic dividend is used to manufacture its short lived rise. However, the headwinds are changing very rapidly, and the threat will prove to be just a very brief flash in history. All of this will be the Communist Party’s own undoing, and unlike many other challenges in the world, they simply cannot reverse the massive demographic damage they have inflicted on the Chinese nation in the past four decades.
One can only hope that they will not one day enact Nicolae Ceaucescu-style Decree 770 policies out of desperation, for that will once again bring massive human rights abuses and trauma to ordinary Chinese people, who simply wish for a happy and stable life. But history has always proven that when China explodes or implodes, it always does it on a massive scale, so we can only watch with bated breath to see what happens next in China’s turbulent future.
William Huang is an avid researcher into China and East Asia’s looming demographic crisis. He also aims to raise his voice for the sanctity of life wherever and whenever he can.