China’s drastic lockdown could exacerbate the population crisis

And so when a Shanghai family refused to move from their home to the official quarantine during the sixth week of the city’s lockdown, a police officer warned them that he saw their children’s future – a powerful threat to their heels.

“If you do not obey the city government, you will be punished, and the punishment will affect three generations of your family,” said a social police officer, pointing his finger at the camera in a video posted by the Hazmat-friendly police officer.

“We are the last generation, thank you,” replied one young man, who was not seen in the video, firmly, in an apparent suggestion he had no plans to have a baby.

The video ends there, with no indication that the family was eventually taken away. But it has spread like wildfire on the Chinese Internet, resonating with many young Chinese who are frustrated by the growing pressure to have children – from a society and government that many say has provided them with the basic necessities and emotional security. Grow a baby.

“I laughed at first but in the end I felt very sad. She is resisting by giving up her reproductive rights,” said a user on Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like platform.

Carrying the family line has long been a responsible duty in traditional Chinese culture. But in today’s China, having no children – or being delayed – has become a kind of soft resistance and silent protest that many see as a depressing reality, with deep-rooted structural problems emanating from a system they have. Little power to change.

“It’s a sad expression of the deepest kind of frustration,” said Zhang Xuezhong, a human rights lawyer and former Shanghai law professor. Wrote on Twitter About the video

“We have been robbed of a future that is worth waiting for. This is arguably the strongest condemnation for a young man living in this age.”

Chinese millennials are not getting married, and the government is concerned
Over the past decade, a growing number of Chinese millennia have delayed – or outright rejected – marriages and children as they face higher work pressures, skyrocketing property prices, rising education costs and discrimination against mothers at work.
Last year, only 7.6 million Chinese couples registered for marriage – down 44% from 2013 and the lowest in 36 years. At the same time, the country’s birth rate dropped to 7.5 per 1,000 live births, a record low since the founding of Communist China, with nine provinces and territories registering negative population growth.

Concerned Chinese government. For decades, it has strictly enforced the one-child policy, forcing millions of women to have abortions that are considered illegal by the state. But as China’s birth rate plummeted, demographers warned of a population crisis.

Beijing scrapped the one-child policy in 2016 and relaxed it last year to allow couples to have three children, with local governments chanting promotional slogans and whipping up financial incentives to encourage more births – but the birth rate continues to skyrocket.

Some officials and policy advisers have become deaf to the demands of young people. Last month, a law professor and representative of the Jinzhou Municipal People’s Congress in Hubei Province suggested that in order to promote marriage and childbearing, the media should reduce or avoid reporting on “independent women” and “double-income-no-children”. DINK) lifestyle, “because they do not conform to the country’s” mainstream values. “

As the epidemic dragged on, feelings of frustration grew among many of the country’s younger generations.

Increasingly frequent and severe lockdowns – and the chaos and tragedies that result from them – have made citizens realize how fragile their rights are in the face of a state apparatus that has no dissent and is a ruthless bureaucracy trained to take orders from above. Slight flexibility.

This is especially true in Shanghai, which is suffering from seven weeks of severe lockdown. In the country’s wealthiest and most luxurious city, residents have suffered from widespread food shortages, lack of medical care and forced segregation in Spartan temporary facilities. Authorities initially isolated young children from their parents – and only reversed after a public outcry.

There was growing frustration and anger on Chinese social media – and in some cases, censorship struggled to keep up. Some residents protest from their windows, play pots and pans and shout in frustration. Others clash with police and health workers on the streets – rarely in a country where dissent is regularly suppressed.

Last week, local authorities forced residents to hand over their keys after taking them to their quarantine, so that health workers could go inside and soak their personal belongings with disinfectants – little scientific rationale for their activities or rights to private property.

For many residents, this was the last straw. Even their homes – their personal spaces and their last refuge – have not escaped the proactive implementation of the government’s zero-cove policy. Some say their lives have been spent following what officials consider “greater good”, where residents are left powerless to protect their loved ones.

To many young people, the crisis in Shanghai is sounding alarm bells. Would other cities be better off if even the most developed cities in China with the largest middle-class population, the so-called most open-minded bureaucrats, and the most cosmopolitan culture were not spared such authoritarian behavior?

“Who would want to have a baby when that happens? Who dares to have a baby?” Asked a user on Weibo.

“Your kingdom is over with me. And the suffering you have caused is over with me,” said another.

Rapidly spreading anger soon caught the attention of censors. By Thursday evening, most of the videos had been scrubbed from the Chinese Internet. On Weibo, several related hashtags from “We are the last generation” to “the last generation” have been censored after attracting heated discussion.

But suppressing what young people want to say will not help persuade them to have children. On the contrary, it may increase their dissatisfaction.

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