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A baby gets a trip to the park in Beijing on May 12. China’s population growth is falling closer to zero as fewer couples have children, adding to strains on an ageing society with a shrinking workforce. Photo: Getty Images

LettersChina three-child policy: focus on a better rather than bigger population

  • Having a healthy population pyramid with higher quality of life is more important than a country with a gigantic population
  • Zero population growth might be a better answer for the future, with AI and other technology to help ease any potential labour shortage
The recent announcement of the three-child policy has caused heated debate in China. Should we try to remain one of the most populous countries in the world, or should we be resigned to following in the footsteps of Japan and be weakened significantly as demographic figures drop?
This reminds me of the famous debate between Mao Zedong and Ma Yinchu, an economist and demographic expert, almost immediately after the birth of the People’s Republic. The ideas of Mao eventually prevailed and the country’s population exploded. In the early 50s, China had almost one quarter of the world’s population.
Certainly, having a healthy population pyramid is more important than just a gigantic population. We should envisage maintaining a better quality of life for our people. Quality of life is more important than having a long life while the elderly still have to work for a living, so longevity might not always be a blessing.
More importantly, we should focus on carbon emissions and other environmental issues. Having a smaller population might mean consuming less energy. Thus, it contributes to China’s promise of carbon neutrality by 2060.
Actually, we should not spell out a definite population policy for the country. When the country insisted on a one-child policy, some families violated the guidelines and paid heavy penalties to have a second or third child.


China expands two-child policy to three

China expands two-child policy to three
Now, the tide might have reversed, as most families might have only one child even though they are legally allowed to have three. Therefore, I suggest the borrowed idea of “zero population growth” be implemented - not at the family level but at a provincial level.

Zero population growth is an impetus to upgrading the quality of life for our population in terms of education, physical health, leisure, society and interactive development.

We can still allow more children for individual reasons, but the family size should be maintained. Zero population growth might be a better answer to for our future. People might worry about a shortage of labour, but we are fortunate to have AI to help solve those problems.

Lo Wai Kong, Lai Chi Kok