China has the largest population in the world. By February 1995 the population on China’s mainland reached 1.2 billion – 22 percent of the world’s total.
China’s population featured a high birth rate, high death rate and low growth rate before 1949, when the People’s Republic of China was founded. In the first 20 years after the founding of new China the population had a high birth rate, low death rate and high growth rate. But since the 1980s, with the adoption of the policy of family planning, the population has been changed toward low birth rate, low death rate and low growth rate.
The distribution of China’s population is imbalanced. The population density is high in the southeast and low in the northwest. If we draw a line from Aihui in Heilongjiang Province to Tengchong in Yunnan Province, we can see that in the eastern part of China the land area makes up 43 percent, but its population makes up 94 percent, In the western part of China the land area accounts for 57 percent, but the population makes up only 6 percent. The average population density is 236 people per square kilometer in the southeast but 11 people per square kilometer in the northwest. A quarter of the population of China is in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, including Hubei, Hunan, Anhui, Jiangxi, Jiangsu provinces and Shanghai, the population density is 663 people per square kilometer. Shanghai has the highest population density, with 2,118 people per square kilometer. The area in the lower reaches of the Yellow River, including Hebei, Henan and Shandong provinces, and Beijing and Tianjin, has a fifth of China’s population, and the population density is 559 people per square kilometer. Among these places Tianjin’s population density reached 777 people and Beijing 664 people per square kilometer. But on Qinghai – Tibet Plateau, the land area makes up one – fifth of China’s total, whereas the population accounts for only one – twentieth and the population density is only 3.9 people per square kilometer. The place with the lowest population density is Tibet, with only 18 people per square kilometer. The imbalance is caused by natural, historical, economic and other factors.
China has adopted the policy of family planning as a necessity. Its enormous population meant per capita indices in China were lower than the world average. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China the national economy has developed rapidly, the total output of main products has become the largest in the world. The enormous population has drained natural resources and material products and hindered rise in living standard.
Population growth has brought a series of problems in housing, health, care, transportation, education, employment and welfare. The basic content of China’s family planning policy is to advocate late marriage and late child – birth. China’s marriage law rules marriage age for man is at age 22 and 20 for a woman. A baby born to a mother over age 24 is considered a late childbirth. Couples normally have only one child. But to minority ethnic groups, the state has adopted a more liberal policy.
Family planning in China started in the early 1970s. It enjoys the understanding and support f the population and has achieved results. China would have 260 million more than the present population if the family planning program had not been adopted. As a result, life is more prosperous. The family planning policy is unshakeable.