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Family planning makes China unlikely to overtake US

family-planning, birth control

BEIJING — Eight thousand miles is a long way to fly someone so he can tell you you're wrong.

北京——请一个人飞8000英里过来,只为了听他说你错了,这种事情可不多见。

That's what awaits Chinese officials on Friday when Yi Fuxian, a scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, speaks at a panel on China's population policies at the Boao Forum, an annual gathering of hundreds of politicians, businesspeople, opinion leaders and journalists.

这正是中国官员周五要做的事。届时,威斯康星大学麦迪逊分校(University of Wisconsin-Madison)的科学家易富贤将在博鳌论坛的一场专家讨论中,谈论中国的人口政策。博鳌亚洲论坛每年召开,有数以百计的政商人士、意见领袖和记者参加。

The day will mark a remarkable transition for Dr. Yi, from pariah to V.I.P. Six years ago, officials in his home province of Hunan threatened to arrest him if he returned from the United States, where he has lived since 1999, for helping his sister-in-law escape a forced abortion at seven months, he said in an interview in Beijing this week en route to the forum in Hainan Province. Also, his cousin's wife's baby was killed in utero one week before the baby's expected birth, he said. It was not possible to confirm Dr. Yi's accounts, but they echo many confirmed ones.

这一天标志着易富贤从草民到贵宾的逆转。自1999年以来,易富贤一直住在美国;六年前,他家乡湖南省的官员威胁说,如果他从美国回国,就会逮捕他,因为他帮助怀有7个月身孕的姻亲躲避了一次强制堕胎。本周,他在前往海南参加这场论坛的途中,在北京接受了采访。他说自己一个表兄弟的妻子,在预产期之前的一周,胎儿被引产了。易富贤的这个说法无法证实,但这一情况与很多已经证实的事件相符。

Dr. Yi has a message for Boao: Because of China's birth control policies beginning in 1980, there is no way its economy will overtake that of the United States. Growth is already beginning to fall amid a distorted demographic structure, he said.

易富贤将在博鳌论坛提出这样的观点:由于中国从1980年开始实施计划生育政策,中国经济无法超越美国。由于人口结构出现扭曲,经济增长已经开始回落,他说。

After the 1949 revolution, "we had the advantages of having lots of young people," said Dr. Yi, who remains a Chinese citizen. "But that's ending."

1949年革命后,"我们有很多的年轻人,这是一个优势,但是这个优势现在已经没有了,"易富贤说,他仍然是中国公民。

"People say we can be two to three times the size of America's economy," Dr. Yi said. "I say it's totally impossible. It will never overtake America's, because of the decrease in the labor force and the ageing of the population." The United States has a much healthier age distribution, he said.

"有些人说,我们的经济规模可以达到美国的两到三倍,"易富贤说。"我说这完全是不可能的。因为劳动力减少和人口老龄化,中国的经济永远不会超过美国。"美国人口的年龄分布更加健康,他说。

Sharing this concern, last year the government increased the number of permitted children, from one for most couples, to two.

政府也有同样的担忧,从去年开始,政府把大多数夫妇可以生育的子女数量提高到了两个。

It won't help, said Dr. Yi, a medical researcher, father of three and author of the 2007 book "Big Country With an Empty Nest," which criticized the birth policies and was banned in mainland China until 2013.

这是没用的,易富贤说。他是一名医学研究员,育有三个孩子,在2007年出版的《大国空巢》一书中,他批评了中国计划生育政策。该书在2013年之前一直被大陆列为禁书。

As the number of women of childbearing age shrinks, so will births in a long-term trend, he said. Meanwhile, a rising median age is creating great financial burdens.

他说,随着育龄妇女人数减少,长期的生育趋势也会下滑。与此同时,人口平均年龄的提高,也会带来严重的财政负担。

Dr. Yi creates scores of graphs using data from the government's national population censuses and its "one-percent" mini-censuses. He pieces official figures together as they are released in snippets, updating constantly. The projections are his own, he said.

易富贤使用中国政府的全国人口普查数据,以及"百分之一"小型普查数据,制作了数十张图表。他把零零碎碎发布的官方数据集中在一起,不断更新。这些预测是他自己做出的,他说。

In 2013, the government had already relaxed its policy to allow couples in which one partner was a single child to have two children, expecting a rise in births.

2013年时,中国政府就已经放宽了政策,如果夫妻中一方是独生子女,就可以生育两个孩子,政府预计生育率会有所上升。

Instead, there were 320,000 fewer births in 2015 than in 2014, bolstering his point that it was too little, too late, Dr. Yi said.

结果2015年出生的婴儿,比2014年减少了32万。易富贤说,这支持了自己的观点:这个政策力度太小,来得太晚。

"The 2015 one-percent census will show that fertility in 2014 was 1.25 children per woman," he predicted. "They expected 1.8."

"2015年的百分之一普查数据会表明,2014年的生育率是每名女性1.25个子女,"他预测。"他们预期的是1.8。"

"Now they say with two kids, they'll get 2.1 children per woman," Dr. Yi said. "But they won't. I think they'll get 1.4. Over all, they say they'll get 21 million births per year. I don't think so. Maybe 15 million."

"现在他们说,有了两孩政策,平均每名女性会生育2.1个孩子,"易富贤说。"但实际上不会。我觉得总体而言会是1.4。他们说每年将会有2100万个新生儿。我觉得不会,可能只有1500万左右。"

He sees China's population, now at 1.35 billion, declining.

他认为,中国人口总数正在下滑。目前中国人口规模为13.5亿人。

"By 2060 there will be one billion Chinese. By 2080 there will be 700 million. And the result will be — all old people," he said, flicking through graphs for a lecture he will deliver at universities across the country in April, after Boao. He predicts that within two years the government will have to lift all birth restrictions.

"到2060年,中国人口会是10亿。到2080年会是7亿。其结果就是——老人太多,"他边翻图表边说。博鳌论坛结束之后,他将于4月在全国各地的大学举行讲座,届时将用到这些图表。他预计在两年之内,政府将被迫解除对生育的一切限制。

The world has grown accustomed to hearing from Western and Chinese economists and businesspeople that China's economy will overtake that of the United States in 2025, or in 2030 or another point in the future. That makes Dr. Yi's message one that will be hotly debated, including by China's leaders, who only partly understand, he said.

这个世界已经听惯了西方及中国的经济学家、企业家的说法,他们称中国经济将在2025年,或2030年,或未来某个时间点超越美国。易富贤说,因此自己的观点将会引发激烈的辩论,中国领导人也会参与辩论,但他们对这个问题仅仅是一知半解。

"They're not as worried as I am, because they haven't fully understood the problem yet," he said.

"他们没有我这么担心,因为他们还没有完全理解这个问题,"他说。

"I can go to Boao because the Chinese government isn't against me anymore!" he said. "Before, they said I was a traitor because I opposed state birth policies. Where I used to be a traitor, I'm now being paid to fly, business class, from Madison to Chicago, to Beijing, to Hainan."

"我可以去博鳌了,因为中国政府现在不针对我了!"他说。"以前他们说我是叛徒,因为我反对国家的生育政策。曾经把我当叛徒的地方,现在出钱请我飞过去,从麦迪逊到芝加哥,到北京,到海南,一路坐的都是商务舱。"

2016-06-23

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