One of the most difficult challenges facing China on its road to superpowerdom is its looming demographic cliff. If China’s population crests in 2020 as some are predicting, the retiree-to-worker ratio will get more lopsided in every subsequent decade, putting enormous strains on China’s public finances and pension schemes. Chinese Party officials, central planning technocrats to the bone, are clearly aware that China’s One Child policy has more than a little to do with this state of affairs. Earlier this year, they began talking about doing something about it.They’re still talking:
Chinese media report that Beijing is studying changes to the controversial policy. Its possible reform will involve new exemptions to the one-child rule, beyond current ones such as those for some ethnic minority groups or couples where both parents are themselves single children.
Maybe this last round of public chin-stroking could be due to the ugly publicity surrounding the double murder of Chinese officials by a man driven to despair because he couldn’t afford to pay the government-mandated penalty for his fourth child. With social media amplifying the complaints of a rising urban middle class, gone are the days where the Communist Party could blithely dismiss public discontent. The One Child policy’s days may well be numbered.[TonyV3112 / Shutterstock.com]