What do the Chinese call their new babies

China: No baby boom in the year of the monkey


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This weekend, the New Year celebrations in China begin, and almost everyone goes to their old homeland to see their families. Under the hashtag # Gro├česNeujahrsfestVerh├Âr, young Chinese are currently sharing tweets and videos on the short message service Weibo about the most annoying questions of relatives: "When are you getting married?" and "When do you have children?" are very popular. Having offspring is traditionally a must in Chinese society. At the start of the New Year of the Monkey, the pressure is likely to be particularly great, because the year is considered to bring good luck for the young. In addition, at the beginning of the year, Beijing abolished the one-child policy that had been in place for decades. 90 million married women of childbearing age are now allowed to have a second child.

"Only one child is enough" - with this slogan, strict controls and forced sterilization, the Chinese state tried for decades to keep the Chinese population in check when it comes to reproduction. But now China is headed unchecked towards a demographic catastrophe. The national statistics bureau has calculated that by 2040 more than a quarter of the Chinese will be over 65. The easing of the one-child policy since 2013 has shown little success. Complete abolition is therefore the logical consequence. The number of workers has been falling since 2012. At the same time, China has neither stable social security systems nor a high per capita income. This is not only socially explosive, but also endangers China's ambitious economic plans.

Fear of the aging society

How great the Chinese government's fear of the negative effects of demographic change is is shown by the clear words in the guidelines for the two-child policy published earlier this year. China is at a "serious turning point," it says. Implementing the two-child policy is "central to long-term balanced population development".

Elena Klorer

is a research associate at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (Merics) in Berlin.

The state commission for health care and family planning asserts again and again that the majority of the population wants a second child. Some surveys come to different results: In a survey in Shandong Province, only 15 percent of respondents under the age of 50 said they want two children. If the current birth rate of 1.4 children per woman does not improve, China's population could begin to shrink as early as 2021, almost ten years earlier than previously assumed by the government.

The state propaganda machine is therefore running to the limit: Official media report extensively on methods that promote fertility, the right age for having children, and give tips for older women giving birth. Because almost two-thirds of the 90 million eligible women are already older than 35. The state offers medical support for Chinese couples willing to give birth: It finances preventive medical check-ups, the free removal of hormonal contraceptives and invests in the expansion of artificial insemination services.

The only problem is: the Chinese are not going along with the baby boom they are aiming for. On the Internet, many are lively discussing the reasons against having a second child.