Asia Pacific

Overpopulation in China

China and overpopulation are two words that have become synonymous over the years. Overpopulation in China has become a global issue as China is the most populous country in the world and its contribution to the international community is extremely significant. However it doesn’t necessarily mean that a country with a high population is an overpopulated country. To clarify the meaning of overpopulation, here is a little description. Overpopulation in a country occurs when the number of people in an area is far greater than the country’s available resources (China Studies). The People’s Republic of China has had this problem for many years and still the government hasn’t come up with an effective solution. The Chinese government has to quickly alter its old population controlling policies because it is disturbing the country’s social and economic life, and if it continues, China could face a huge crisis in the future.

China’s population started to increase dramatically after World War II. In 1949, Mao encouraged Chinese families to have as many children as possible. This is because the government thought the population increase would bring money to the country and help China produce more food, build a better army, develop water control, and establish communication systems (Chinese Population). For the next ten years China’s population increased in millions every year. In 1949 the population was around 118 million, which increased to 540 million in 1960’s. In 1970 the population increased again by 290 million, making it a massive increase of 712 million in just 20 years (Issue of Overpopulation).

The population increase largely depends on the fertility of a country. In the past 30 years China’s fertility trend changed many times, making a great impact on the population increase. The fertility trend changed from about six children per woman to two children per woman. This was a result of policies introduced by the government under “unfavorable social, economic, and demographic conditions” (The Overpopulation Issue). China also joined some of the western countries like U.S.A into promoting this program. Now let’s look at the fertility trends introduced in China since 1949 (Chinese Economics).

China’s fertility transition can be distributed into six main steps. The first step was called the Initial High Fertility period, which took place from 1949 to 1957. In this period China’s fertility was high and the death rate declined making a total fertility of 6.0 children per woman. The next period, also known as Great Leap Forward, occurred from 1958 to 1961. This period consisted of policy errors by the government and the fertility decreased from 6.0 to 3.3 making an increase in death rate. The period of Post-Famine Recovery happened from 1962 to 1979. (China) This was the period in which China reached its peak and the fertility increased from 3.3 to 7.4. The fourth period of Rapid Fertility Decline occurred from 1971 to 1979 and in this period the fertility decreased from 7.4 to 2.8. From 1980 to 1989, it was the Stagnation period, the one-child policy was introduced and the fertility decreased to 2.5. The last fertility period or Below-Replacement Fertility period which started in 1990 saw the fertility drop to 2.1 children per woman. We can infer from these statistics that although China’s birth rate kept increasing and decreasing the population continued to grow steadily (China).

Population distribution of China is very unique in its style; if we look at it closely then we can figure out which areas of the country are contributing the most to the increasing population. China’s population density of 126 people per square kilometer is very high (Overpopulation). However we have to understand that China is not divided into equal parts; there aren’t the same number of people living in a particular area. Some regions consist of mountains, some have farms, and some are metropolitan cities. The mountainous area does not support much of the inhabitants of the country. However there is booming population in metropolitan cities (The Overpopulation Situation). The stats basically show that China population is not proportionally distributed, some areas are have a high population density and some areas have a low population density.

Now let’s look at some of the interesting statistics about the country’s population distribution at present. The population density in coastal areas is around 400 people per square kilometer compared to mountainous regions of 10 people per square kilometer. The population distributed by gender is composed such as males make about 52% and females make 48% of the whole country. The population distribution by area is, cities have 29% of population and the countryside consists of 71% of the total population. The distribution of population by age is as follows, population under 14 years makes 27%, 15-64 years make 67%, and above 65 years old people make about 6% of China (The Overpopulation Situation).

Analyzing these statistics, we can make some interesting conclusions. China doesn’t have a balanced male and female proportion which could result in future problems. There are many people living in rural areas where there is not as much law enforcement as in urban areas, making it difficult for the government to force its population controlling policies. By age, at the moment, it is looking balanced as there are more people who are in the age to do jobs and make money for their young ones and old parents; however, the government still has to keep an eye on this and make sure it stays that way (China Studies).

Another major reason to eliminate the overpopulation problem is because it is hurting the country’s economy. To support such a big population the country needs more money to feed the people and to establish its new programs. However, if we see some of the benefits of overpopulation, one of them is that China’s population attracts many other multi-national companies to set up their businesses in the most populous country. For example, industries like Coke, Motorola, and Volkswagen are big companies that make large amounts of money internationally, and they bring large finances to the country. So, this is probably the only good overpopulation does for China, financially and the country can make some money out of these famous western firms (Chinese Economics).

Overpopulation also has its drawbacks in economics. Earlier in the 1960’s it was good to have such a population increase and as the government of 1940’s predicted, the population brought finance to the country making the money available for various projects. Mainly these projects consisted of heavy industrialization which did not do much good to the population (China). The situation in China right now is not very good. People are vying for more food, fresh water, and electricity. Although these resources are available in major cities but in rural areas, which makes up for about 71% of population, there is a great lack of these assets (Overpopulation).

As the overpopulation is such a big problem in China, one would expect that the government would take action. It is true that the Chinese government has acted forcefully, however, one might argue that the action is slightly too forceful. The government introduced new family planning policies to control overpopulation. Such policies include rules like, couples marrying at a later age and start having children later in life. The one-child policy was also introduced and forced upon the entire Chinese population. Several of these policies worked very well into forcing a population drop from the 1980’s (Issue of Overpopulation).

However the Chinese government should be criticized for taking action against overpopulation at such a late point. One would ask what the Chinese government did when it realized that the population would increase dramatically? The answer is nothing. From 1950 to 1978, no action to reduce overpopulation was taken by the government (China Education). This kind of stance only leaves historians to criticize the Chinese government and they blame the country itself for the problems it is facing today. If the government would have taken action earlier, as one historian predicted, China would be growing at a normal rate today. The economic and social life of the country would also be in a safer situation, and then China could also become an important country in global affairs (China).

However, it is a big “IF” about the Chinese government taking action earlier. At the moment, the government is exercising the policy of one-child per family (Chinese Population). According to this policy, a couple can only have one child in their entire life. In the rural area if the first child is a girl then parents are allowed to have another child but after that no more will be permitted. According to the government, the one-child policy has been very effective in reducing the population of the country. It prevented 250 million births since 1980. Some predictions also suggest that the current population of 1.26 billion would make around 1.6 billion in 2050, which will be a great achievement for the government (The One-Child Policy).

Although these statistics might seem amazing and effective, that they are, the policies have other dangerous ‘side effects’, as the Chinese people prefer having a boy over a girl, the one-child policy forces them to dump the newly born girls on the streets or kill them, so they can have a boy, who would continue the family tradition. Millions of baby-girls have been killed in Beijing since 1980 (The One-Child Policy). It is such a harsh piece of reality that no one who cares about humanity would just stand and watch. Yet no action is taken to stop the Chinese government from forcing these policies upon the public (China Studies).

Now let’s look at some of the prediction on China’s future. If the one-child policy continues to rule over the social and economic life then the country could face some serious problems. One of the problems will be the ratio of working class people to the ratio of non-working class people. It is predicted that by 2025, in a normal Chinese household, there will be four grand parents, two parents, and one child (Overpopulation). That makes us think that out of seven people only two can earn money and they have to take the responsibility of five people excluding themselves. It is quite a big challenge for those hard working parents but China has to live with it if they want to maintain the one-child policy. This also means that the Chinese economy will take a big jump backwards. There would be less working class people meaning that there would be less income generated by the country (China Studies).

One of the other problems that China could face in the future is the imbalance of the male and female proportions. It is predicted that by 2025 there would be four males for every one female. It doesn’t really look like the stats of a healthy growing country. Then why does the Chinese government stop forcing this one-child policy. “Suppose, the population policy could eventually pull China out of the backwardness; yet a turnabout might happen: China’s problem in the future will not be too many people but not enough.” (China Studies) I hope the Chinese government realizes it fault and starts taking immediate action before it is too late (Overpopulation). China’s current population is still like a new Australia every year (The Overpopulation Issue). Maybe this is the reason why the government is still exercising the one-child policy. However, they should ask this question of themselves, is it worth reducing the population of the country over the dead bodies of small baby-girls. I am absolutely against this policy. Even in the future this policy will not help China because it only creates a lapse in social and economic life of the country and it will keep doing that. The Chinese population has decreased greatly over the past few decades, so should we congratulate the government over this achievement or should we criticize them for not doing anything on the crimes against humanity that occur on their streets everyday. Hopefully the new generation of China will be able to come up with a better solution and hopefully it will not be too late.

Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC and CEO of Portia Web Solutions. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.

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