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THE POLITICS OF CHINA'S POPULATION GROWTH

Ma Jisen
Asian Perspective
Vol. 22, No. 1 (Spring 1998), pp. 35-52
Published by: Lynne Rienner Publishers
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42704155
Page Count: 18
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
THE POLITICS OF CHINA'S POPULATION GROWTH
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Abstract

This article reviews the significant changes taking place in the Chinese population, and the politics behind high and low population growth rates. Before 1949, both the birth rate and the mortality rate were high; the annual increase rate was 2.6 per thousand between 1840-1949. The situation changed after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) came to power. War diminished and the living conditions of the people improved somewhat, which resulted in a transformation of the model of the population to one of high birth rate, low mortality rate, and high growth rate. The total population on the mainland increased from 540 million to 892 million from 1949 to 1973. This drastic increase resulted from a policy pursued by the Mao Zedong regime that relied on a large number of workers to achieve its political goals. Ma Yinchu, an economist who advised on family planning policy, was persecuted. In 1958, Mao launched the Great Leap Forward, trying to push production upward by highlighting political and class struggle. The campaign led to widespread famine with abnormal deaths in the tens of millions, followed by a sharp increase of births. Not until the 1970s did China begin earnestly to implement a national policy of family planning. After carrying out the policy for more than 20 years, China has checked the drastic growth of the population and realized a population reproduction model of low birth rate, low mortality rate, and low growth rate. The policy has played an important role in the improvement of the living conditions of the Chinese people, ensuring much larger production per capita. Based on scientific investigations, China plans to keep its population within 1.6 billion by 2050 or even earlier. The population issue has been included in China's socioeconomic development project. The people are encouraged to "have fewer births for more rapid improvement of welfare". Now the Chinese government is striving for a sustainable development of both the population and the economy.

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