The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

China's decline has become undeniable this week. And now that?


Forget a China on the rise. The dangerous thing will be its decline.

I have been writing columns for years in which I predict the decline of China.

This week, the decline has become undeniable.

The downhill road will not be easy, neither for her nor for us.

Zhang, 66, a resident of Beijing, who has lost four close people since early December when coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases spiked in China, poses for a photo in Beijing's Forbidden City, China, January 13, 2023. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The news is that the death rate in China exceeds the birth rate for the first time in more than 60 years.

Last time, it was the famine caused by Mao Zedong

's economic policies

that led to some 36 million starvation deaths.

Now, it is young Chinese couples who, like their peers in much of the developed world,

do not want children


So far, the demographic change has been small: 9.56 million births last year versus 10.41 million deaths, according to Chinese government statistics.

That out of a total population of 1.4 billion.

The country will not run out of people anytime soon.

But the longer-term trend lines look dire for Beijing.

In 1978, when Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms began, China's median age was 20.1.

In 2021, it was 37.9, surpassing that of the United States.

China's fertility rate is 1.18.

The replacement rate needed to maintain a stable population is 2.1.

In 2018, there were an estimated 34 million more men in China than women, a result of a one-child policy that led couples to abort girls at a higher rate than boys.

China's working-age population has been shrinking for years;

a government spokesman estimated that it will drop

to 700 million

by mid-century.

If you think the world already has too many people, all of this may sound like good news.

But is not.

China is increasingly likely to grow old before it gets rich, condemning hundreds of millions of Chinese to a


and often lonely old age.

According to Ruchir Sharma, former head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley, population decline is often accompanied by economic decline:

approximately one percentage point decline in economic growth for every percentage point decline in population.

And China, as an export center and a vast market, has been one of the main engines of global economic growth for four decades.

Its weakness will have repercussions on the world economy.

But the scariest aspect of China's decline is geopolitical.


When democracies have economic problems, they tend to withdraw into themselves and avoid risks.

When dictatorships have them, they tend to focus abroad and lean towards risk.

Regimes unable, or unwilling, to address domestic discontent through political and economic reforms often attempt to do so through

adventures abroad.

This point is worth pondering now that Beijing is also recording the lowest rate of economic growth in almost four decades.

The immediate cause in this case is

Xi Jinping 's catastrophic



the COVID crisis:

the punitive lockdowns, the rejection of foreign vaccines, the abrupt end of restrictions, the constant lies.

But the Chinese economy was already in trouble before the pandemic:

a bursting property bubble, unprecedented capital flight, the end of Hong Kong as a relatively free city, and Chinese companies like Huawei becoming less welcome in Western countries due to

problems of espionage and intellectual property theft


A pragmatic government could have met these challenges.

But Xi has named a posse of "yeses" to the Politburo for his unprecedented third term as supreme leader.

If economic conditions deteriorate, they are more likely to find answers to their problems in aggression than in reform.

Think of inflationary


on the eve of the Malvinas invasion or bankrupt


just before the invasion of Kuwait.

What should the United States do?

Three things.



The better Kiev fares militarily against Moscow, the more deeply Beijing will learn the lesson that taking


would not be as easy as it seems.

The sooner Taiwan


large stockpiles of easy-to-use, hard-to-target weapons like Stinger and Javelin missiles, the more hesitant Chinese military planners will be to step on a sea urchin.

The more the United States does to help

Japan, Australia

and other allies bolster their militaries, the greater the deterrent effect it will have on China's regional ambitions.


The administration is already doing a lot of this.

It has to do more, and much faster.


trade détente


Trying to punish Beijing with

Donald Trump

's tariffs aggravates the relationship and hurts both parties financially.

We should offer to reduce them in exchange for assurances from China that it will end its

hacking campaigns

against US institutions.

If you cheat, the fees may be

reimposed and doubled.


human rights.

At every opportunity, the State Department should speak loud and clear on behalf of Chinese dissidents.

Jimmy Lai and Qin Yongmin, among others, should be as well known to Americans as

Andrei Sakharov


Natan Sharansky

were in the 1970s.

Their names should be brought up in every bilateral meeting with Chinese officials, not only out of concern for their lives, but also as a reminder that our fundamental differences with Beijing are not strategic.

They are moral.

In the long term, the best hope we can have for China is its people.

The biggest investment we can make in the coming decades of turmoil is to keep faith with them.

c.2023 The New York Times Company

look also

Another malaise in China: "zero COVID" workers without pay

Historic decline: For the first time in 60 years, China's population fell

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-01-18

You may like

Business 2023-01-31T17:35:58.438Z

Trends 24h

News/Politics 2023-03-29T17:31:03.491Z


© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.