China’s National Bureau of Statistics said Thursday the number of people in the country increased in 2020, in an apparent attempt to deny reports of population decline.
On Tuesday (27), the Financial Times published a report according to which China was about to announce the first decline in its population in more than 50 years. According to the British newspaper, the Chinese census revealed that the country’s population had fallen to less than 1.4 billion, a figure to be exceeded in 2019.
Postponing the release of the results of last year’s census, which was scheduled for early April, the National Statistics Department said the delay was in part due to the need to do “more preparatory work” before the announcement. public.
On Thursday, the agency returned to address the issue through a one-sentence statement. “According to our understanding, in 2020 the population of our country continued to grow,” the department said.
It remained to be said, for example, in comparison with the year of this growth and when the complete data obtained by the census will be made public.
The 2010 survey showed that mainland China’s population was 1.34 billion. In 2019, that number reached 1.4005 billion. So, the Chinese population may have increased if it is considered a decade, but decreased compared to last year.
The goal set by Beijing in 2016 was to exceed 1.42 billion inhabitants by 2020. The previous year, the Communist Party had decided to abolish the one-child policy, a rule in force since 1979 and determined that couples should not have more than sons.
It is estimated that the measure has prevented the birth of around 400 million people since its implementation. Couples who violated the restrictions faced penalties such as paying hefty fines and losing jobs, and there were reports of stricter measures to suppress births, such as sterilizations and forced abortions.
The last time China experienced a population decline was even before the one-child policy. It took place between 1959 and 1961, when the country was experiencing the “Great Leap Forward” campaign, a plan to accelerate industrialization, under the command of Mao Tse-Tung (1893-1976).
At the time, the population had declined by 13.48 million amid famine caused by dire economic policies, according to data from the same department which now appears to be reluctant to give a forecast for the release of updated statistics.
“The census is very accurate, but the reason for the delay in publication may be that some of the speculation is correct,” said Liu Kaiming, an expert interviewed by Reuters news agency, citing data indicating declining birth rates. in China.
In February, China’s Ministry of Public Security released figures indicating a decline in the number of newborns in the country. According to the data, there were 11.79 million births in 2019 and in 2020 that number fell to 10.035 million.
According to sources consulted by the Financial Times, the census results are considered very sensitive information and will not be released until several departments of the Chinese regime reach consensus on the data and its consequences.
“The census results will have a huge impact on the Chinese vision of their country and on the functioning of various sectors of government,” he told British newspaper Huang Wenzheng, of the think tank Center for China and Globalization in Beijing. “They have to be handled very carefully.”