CHINA / National

Population to peak at 1.5b in 2030s
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-06-23 06:29

China's population will peak at 1.5 billion in the mid-2030s, experts predict.

Beijing babes. China's population will peak at 1.5 billion in about 20 years while the sex ratio will continue to be heavily skewed towards males, according to a new government-backed report(AFP
Beijing babes. [AFP]
According to a research report released Thursday, the population will begin to gradually drop after reaching the peak.

Meanwhile, the number of new-born baby boys will continue to outstrip that of baby girls, with 119 boys for every 100 girls, according to the national population development strategy research report.

The ratio has remained stable, with a national census six years ago yielding roughly the same figure, but is still worrying, according to the report.

The internationally recognized normal ratio is 103-107 of one sex against 100 of the other. But in China, for every 100 new born baby girls, there were 109 baby boys in 1982, and 111 in 1990.

Foetus gender identification and non-medical abortion, which continue despite being illegal, are blamed for the unbalanced gender figures.

A draft of a revision to the Criminal Law, which was discussed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress late last year and this April, proposes that those who help identify the gender of a foetus for non-medical purposes face criminal charges.

Approved by the State Council, the report aimed to investigate population development trends, as well as the relationship between population, the economy, resources and the environment.

More than 300 scholars, including 11 academicians, spent two years compiling the report, which also involved more than 70 governmental departments and organizations.

Their research won an award yesterday at a national conference on population and family planning.

"China has now entered its fourth birth peak," said Jiang Fan, vice-director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, yesterday. The previous three peaks occured in 1949, 1962 and 1987.

China's population stood at 1.307 billion in late 2005, according to census figures.

The research report urged the government not to change current population policies.

In the coming 30 years the average fertility rate will be about 1.8 children for every woman, it said.

"A higher or lower fertility rate is not beneficial for economic and social development in China," it added.

China's labour forces will become the largest in history in the next 30 years, said Chen Li, director of the national population development strategy research project.

(China Daily 06/23/2006 page1)