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Saturday, June 3, 2023

‘Bear more children – they’re like consumer durables’: Chinese economist

“Durable consumer goods pay off in the long run, so it’s wrong for young people not to have children � their value exceeds that of the other goods you buy,” said Chen Wenling, chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, according to a media report.

Chen’s comments sparked an online outcry. Some said that people in China are all regarded as “consumables”, rather than human beings. Others said those who decide not to have children are smart, RFA reported.

“Today’s society has driven young people to the point of desperation,” commented one social media user, adding, “I want a place to live, but I can’t afford one. I don’t have time for fun, and I can’t afford to raise a child � this comment from this expert is so arrogant!”

The message that prompted outcry was from a prominent Chinese economist at a government-backed think-tank, and the most recent effort by the Communist Party’s campaign to boost the country’s flagging birth rate that includes a slew of economic perks for couples � long limited to just one child � to have more children, RFA reported.

Chen’s comments came at a time when youth unemployment is running at around 20 per cent in China, with around 10 million graduates about to enter the labour market to compete with those who are already unemployed.

A current affairs commentator who gave only the surname Chen agreed.

“Most people don’t have the money to find a partner right now, because all of that requires money for food, transportation and going out. Most young people are demotivated by that,” Chen said, RFA reported.

“It’s not that they don’t want a partner; the economic pressures are just too huge, and far worse than before,” he said.

Li Jiabao, who moved from mainland China to live in democratic Taiwan, said there is a huge amount of disillusionment with government policy from the same age group that Beijing is counting on to raise more children.

“After three years of violent enforcement of the zero-COVID policy in China, young people see this government as extremely bureaucratic and careless of human life. I think this is the main reason why young people are so disgusted with this expert,” Li said, RFA reported.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)

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