May 9, 2012
China, the world's most populous country, expects to keep its low birthrate and maintain a population of fewer than 1.4 billion through 2015, according to its latest five-year plan issued by the State Council, Baptist Press reports. At the end of 2011, China had more than 1.34 billion people. The communist nation has prevented a larger population through its coercive population-control program for more than 30 years -- known as the one-child policy -- which has resulted in many reports of forced abortions, sterilizations and infanticide and produced a gender imbalance because of the Chinese preference for sons. The State Council report said in five years there will be more than 200 million people over 60, while the labor force will begin declining steadily after it peaks during the next five years. That could result in massive government spending on pensions and health by about 2028, said Lu Jiehua, a sociology professor at Peking University. China Daily reported April 11 that police in Hubei province broke up a ring believed to be conducting an illegal ultrasound operation -- charging for the tests in order to identify the sex for mothers who wanted to abort girls.