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China’s Population-Control Disaster

The historical evolution of China’s birth-control policies and its failed efforts to maintain them, even in the face of population decline, may hold the key to understanding the government’s decision-making process. By ignoring sound research, Chinese leaders have steered the country into a demographic trap.

MADISON, WISCONSIN – More than four decades after China began opening up to the world, the Chinese government’s decision-making process remains shrouded in secrecy. The country’s population-control policies, and my own ongoing efforts to challenge them, are a case in point.

In 1980, the rocket scientist Song Jian and the economist Tian Xueyuan predicted that China’s population would exceed 4.2 billion by 2080, alarming Chinese authorities and leading to the implementation of the country’s notorious one-child policy. In reality, even without any official restrictions, China’s population would have peaked at roughly 1.6 billion and then gradually declined.

Growing up in China, I personally witnessed the brutality of the one-child policy, which inspired me to initiate a campaign against the country’s population-control measures in 2000. At first, my efforts were restricted to posting articles on overseas websites. I later adopted a more scholarly approach, and by 2003 some of my essays were occasionally allowed to appear in Chinese forums.