New census shows China has added 40 million

Posted: 23 March 2006

Author: Yingling Liu

China's population was 1,306,280,000 on November 1, 2005, according to the latest census report released by China's National Bureau of Statistics on March 16. The number, which excludes Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan, was estimated to reach 1,307,560,000 by the end of 2005.

Since the last nationwide census in 2000, China has added 40.5 million people to its population, registering an average annual growth of 0.63 per cent, the report said.

An estimated 561.6 million people, or nearly 43 per cent of the total population, are urban residents, while 57 per cent live in rural areas. The share of urban residents in the total population increased by 6.8 per cent over the 2000 share.

Males account for 51.5 percent of the total population, while 48.8 percent are female. The gender ratio is 106.3 to 100, indicating a decrease of 0.44 from the 2000 census.

In terms of ethnic make-up, the Han majority accounted for 90.6 per cent of the total population, registering a 2 per cent increase, while 55 different minority groups accounted for 9.4 per cent, registering a 15.9 per cent increase.

The age structure has also changed somewhat, as China continues to see a gradual aging of its population. Nearly 21 per cent of the population is between the ages of 0 and 14, while 11 per cent is over 60. Compared with the 2000 census, the former category decreased 2.6 per cent, while the latter increased 0.76 per cent.

Based on the current population breakdown and growth rate, Chinese demographers estimate that China will see zero population growth by 2035, when the country's population reaches 1.5 billion.

By mid-century, China is projected to have more than 400 million senior citizens, accounting for 20 per cent of the total population, according to People's Daily

Source: Worldwatch Institute China Watch

Footnote:China's controversial one child birth control policy has prevented 400 million births over the past three decades, according to a news report quoting a Government Minister.

The government has limited most urban couples to one child and rural couples to two since the 1970s in an effort to restrain the growth of China's population of 1.3 billion people and conserve scarce resources.

"The goal of ensuring Chinese people a relatively comfortable life would not be achieved if we had 400 million more people," said Zhang Weiqing, Minister in charge of the National Population and Family Planning Commission.

Human rights activists and some foreign governments criticise the policy. Local officials who are under pressure to meet birth quotas are often accused of coercing women into having abortions or being sterilized, though the government says this is forbidden.

The government has no plans to change the policy because "China is facing a new birth peak," Zhang was quoted as saying.

Source:Associated Press reported in Push Journal on 22 March 2006.