Everyone knows that China is the most populous nation on earth, yet no one had a precise estimate until the results of China’s massive 1992 census were released. The official figure for the population now stands at 1, 031,882,551, including the populations of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. Half the population is under 21 year of age. The l billion figure is startling in itself, but even more amazing when translated into terms of total population of the planet. Almost one person In every our is Chinese.
In the hour that probably takes you to bathe, dress, and prepare yourself for your day’s activities, China’s population will have in creased by 1,375 people. For every 24 hour you spend in your life, there are about 33.000 additional mouths to feed in China. In any one year. China’s population increases by about 14 to 15 million people, more than enough to replace the whole population of the vast metropolis of Shanghai or Tokyo, or New York.
Moo Zedong exhorted: ” he more people the better,” but China planners have long adopted a different view. Since the mid-50s authorities have encouraged family planning through delayed marriages and the distribution of free contraceptives but these policies were not effectively implemented until the early 70s and then mainly in the cities. Beijing is serious y concerned that all the extra mouths are eating away he hard-won gains in food production. Of the 17 million babies born each year, nearly 30 percent are either third or fourth additions to the family.
China’s official goal is a population of 1.2 billion by the year 2000. This objective can be achieved only if the 65 percent of the population now under 30 agrees to limit their families to one child: A vigorous campaign has now been mounted to reduce China.’s population-growth rate to zero by the year 2000. The one-child family is now being rewarded with an income bonus, a greater health-care subsidy, and a better retirement pension. The family will be given priority in the allocation of housing or private vegetable plots. The only child will also receive preferential consideration for day-dare enrollment and later, in job allocation. In contrast, a family that choose to have more than two children will be penalized by not being giving ration coupons for food other than staples and will pay 10 percent of its monthly wage as a welfare tax.
Many of the new measures are designed to encourage Chinese peasants to reduce the number of children born to each family. Earlier population programs were reasonably successful in the cities but faded to overcome the peanut couples’ traditional desire to bear as many sons as possible,
There are other aspects of China’s population of interest apart from size: its distribution and composition, for example.
What is often not understood outside of China is that there is a marked imbalance in the distribution of population: about 80 percent of the people live in the countryside. And when you consider that over haft of the country is covered with mountains, that two-thirds of the land is arid, and that only 12 percent is amble, it is easy to understand why 90 percent of the population inhabits little more than 15 percent of the total area. There is another figure illustrating the imbalance in population distribution: half of China-comprising the “autonomous regions” of Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Tibet–is home to only 4 percent of the population. Or put another way: 96 percent of China’s population lives in one-half the total area of China