In China, 30-plus years of a strict one-child policy has resulted in an aging society with too few young people. In an attempt to boost fertility, China adopted a two-child policy in 2015. However, this measure failed to achieve immediate results as the government wished. Statistics showed that China’s birth rate dropped despite the two-child policy, from 17.86 million births in 2016 to 17.23 million in 2017. Against that backdrop, some Chinese specialists are actively proposing that the government take more aggressive measures now.
On August 14, Xinhua Daily, a newspaper owned by the Jiangsu Provincial Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), published an article under the title of “Boosting fertility: a new task for China’s population development in the New Era.”
This article, written by two professors from Nanjing University (one of China’s top-level universities), provided a laundry list of proposals to boost China’s declining fertility, including establishing a national birth fund.
The article said:
[The government] can stipulate that all citizens under the age of 40, regardless of gender, should transfer a certain percentage of their salary each year to the birth fund. Those families who are to give birth a second time or more can apply for subsidy from the fund, so as to compensate for the short-term income loss caused by the labor. As for other citizens who fail to give birth a second time, they won’t be allowed to withdraw their money from the fund until retirement.
Two days later, another professor from China University of Political Science and Law (also one of China’s top-level universities), argued in an interview that “the government can not only establish a birth fund to encourage birth, but should tax those DINK (Dual Income, No Kids) families for social support.”
This professor further claimed that Chinese culture values high fertility. “From the perspective of rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, birth rate is important not only to the current government but also to the generation after generation of the Chinese nation.”
Both remarks immediately triggered a large wave of criticism online.
The report on the professor’s proposal to tax DINK families alone has attracted 64,310 comments so far. The majority of the comments were harsh criticism or sarcasm.
The most liked comment said: “[I] propose taxing this kind of specialists for low intelligence.”
Even the website of CCTV (China Central Television) published a commentary calling the proposal to establish a birth fund “absurd.”
“We can encourage birth through promotion or formulating incentive policy, but we cannot punish those families with no kid or few kids in the name of ‘establishing a birth fund,’” the commentary said.
However, in the eyes of ordinary Chinese people, for a government that once adopted the brutal one-child policy, which forced millions of women to have abortions, the possibility of adopting some other “absurd” policies to boost fertility can never be ruled out. That’s why Chinese netizens are now loudly voicing their opposition.