Jan 17, 2023, 7:30am EST
East Asia

World media reacts to China’s first population decline in six decades


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The News

China’s population last year declined for the first time since 1961, with India expected to overtake its position as the world’s most populous nation within months.

The 2022 population in China of 1.4118 billion fell by around 850,000 from 2021, showed figures released by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday.

Columnists and experts around the world are questioning what this population drop might mean for the economy and global manufacturing.

Elderly people shop ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year at an outdoor market in Beijing, China January 13, 2023.
REUTERS/Tingshu Wang
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The Coverage

China Daily

Chinese state-affiliated outlet China Daily published analyses from three demographic experts on what, if anything, population decline means for the country. While they agree there is no denying that China’s contracting population is a problem, the researchers are divided on how much this will affect the nation in the years to come.


Yuan Xin, director and professor of the Research Center for Strategic Studies on Aging and Development at Nankai University, argues the country is still on track for a roughly 650 million-strong labor force by 2050, which could offset the economic downturn that might follow an aging population.

The Wall Street Journal

India is expected to surpass China this year as the world’s most populous country. In The Wall Street Journal, columnist Walter Russell Mead questions whether India can emerge as a rival to China as a tech and manufacturing “powerhouse.” As many Western countries move away from their reliance on China for production, Mead argues India has a unique opportunity to catch up, provided the country can scale up its attractiveness to foreign investors.

“As American trade policy adjusts to the new era of great-power competition, we need to ensure that made-in-India products have access to American markets,” Mead writes.

The Financial Times

Single, childless adults in China could be on course for mass-loneliness, the result of a confluence of factors from migrating populations, to a rising divorce rate. For the Financial Times, Leo Lewis looks at what stocks or emerging industries will dominate in a country affected by solitude.

His predictions? VR, video games, and streaming services top the list as obvious standouts, but Lewis also sees the potential for growth in industries catering to pets and robotics. “As artificial intelligence improves, a higher premium will be placed on robots that can engage in plausibly human small talk, provide help in contacting human loved ones and persuasively cajole people into taking exercise,” he writes.