China’s population “very sensitive” scholars: internal circulation fears become internal collapse

China’s census results have raised concerns amid a raging Communist Party virus epidemic. Sources close to the situation say the latest Chinese census figures are “very sensitive,” which is why authorities have repeatedly delayed their release. Scholars are concerned that the internal economic cycle of China’s aging society may become an “internal collapse.

China’s seventh census, due to be completed by the end of 2020, was scheduled to be released in early April this year, but officials have repeatedly delayed its release.

The Financial Times reported on April 27 that a Chinese researcher had revealed that the census had resulted in a population of less than 1.4 billion, the first decline in China’s total population since the “Great Leap Forward” movement of the late 1950s, which resulted in the unnatural deaths of tens of millions of people.

China has conducted six national censuses in its history, in 1953, 1964, 1982, 1990, 2000 and 2010, with a total population of 600 million, 690 million, 1 billion, 1.13 billion, 1.26 billion and 1.34 billion, respectively.

Several people familiar with the matter said the latest Chinese population figures are considered “very sensitive” and will not be released until multiple government departments reach a consensus on the data and its implications, according to the report.

In response to questions, the National Bureau of Statistics did not explain the delay in announcing the census results, saying only that more preparatory work was needed.

“If China confirms such a decline, it will be a big deal,” Zhang Zhiwei, chief economist at BUPA Asset Management, told Reuters, adding that “China will probably have to completely liberalize its fertility policy and delay the retirement age more quickly.”

A scholar who works on population research at a Chinese think tank and declined to be named for security reasons told Free Asia that “the era of negative population growth in China may come sooner than we expect.”

The scholar said that China’s 300 million migrant workers, the main body of the labor force, roughly 70 percent of whom have no pension insurance or social security, are gradually moving into old age and out of the labor market. Without a young population to support them in the future, and with a large aging population with no spending power, China’s economy will collapse inward.

In recent months, the Communist Party’s official media have become increasingly pessimistic, stating that the population will probably start to shrink in the next few years. Outsiders believe that in addition to the economic impact, the CCP’s concealment of the true number of deaths from the epidemic during the epidemic may be one of the key reasons why authorities are afraid to release the latest population figures.

As of April 29 this year, the official number of infected people was 102,446 and the number of deaths was 4,845, but this official figure is widely questioned by the international community.

The Voice of America reported on June 13, 2020 that scholars from the University of Washington School of Medicine and Ohio State University jointly published an investigative report that, based on the operation of the Wuhan crematorium during the epidemic and the number of urns issued, the number of deaths from the CCP virus in Wuhan was projected to be more than 10 times the number announced by the government.

The report said that on March 23, Wuhan allowed residents to receive urns, and based on the number of urns received by families, the total number of deaths in Wuhan at this time reached 36,000, more than 10 times the 2,500 announced by the CCP government. Estimates put the number of infected people in Wuhan at that time at between 300,000 and 1.27 million.

The report criticizes the CCP for providing information about the epidemic that delayed response decisions in other parts of China, and the world.

In addition, more than 150,000 elderly people over the age of 80 (75 in the Shennongjia Mountains) in Hubei province suddenly disappeared from the allowance rolls in the first quarter of 2020, according to information from the Hubei Provincial Civil Affairs Department.

An anonymous scholar told Free Asia that China is now aging more and more, and the number of elderly people is increasing year by year. However, the information on the elderly allowance from the Hubei Civil Affairs Department has fallen off a cliff, a situation that is very abnormal.

He stressed that this is still only the case of the elderly over 80 years old, the actual breakdown of information is tightly blocked, and the real number of deaths caused by the epidemic is not available to the outside world.