President Xi Jinping hosted the first meeting of the Central Commission for Financial and Economic Affairs on Friday which proposed to systematically deal with the population issue and promote high-quality development through reforms and innovations.
The road map worked out by the meeting proposed to include population development in the grand blueprint of national modernization, in order to facilitate high-quality overall development. In its conclusion, the meeting said that given the declining birth rate, rising aging population and regional population growth, it is necessary to adapt to the changing situation and promote demographic development.
A declining birth rate and rising aging population have been a common problem for many developed economies. Now, according to National Bureau of Statistics data, even China's population is declining — it declined by 850,000 in 2022.
While new births fell below the 10 million mark for the first time — 9.56 million — in 2022, the aging population exceeded 280 million, accounting for 19.8 percent of the total population.
Given these facts, the meeting proposed to focus on improving people's quality of life, and strive to maintain a moderate fertility rate and population size. The proposal includes using innovative policy tools to provide basic eldercare for senior citizens and reducing the burden on young people. For example, the recently launched personal pension plan is aimed at improving the eldercare system. Also, the market-oriented operation of social security funds has received positive feedback.
And in order to encourage couples to have two or three children, the meeting proposed to significantly ease households' burden by reducing the costs of maternity care, parenting and children's education.
This means stronger measures to promote universal child care services, build a children-friendly society, give subsidies for childbirth, and grant longer maternity leave.
In short, Friday's meeting proposed measures to unleash the full potential of human resources and build a better future for all.