The main threat to China’s rise comes from within


As much as China worries that the United States is trying to hinder its rise as an economic power, there is a potentially greater threat within its own borders: a falling birth rate.

A census released this month showed that the number of births in China fell to its lowest in six decades last year, even after President Xi Jinping ended the one-child policy in 2015 and allowed each couple to have two. Based on these figures, Bloomberg Economics predicted that China’s population would peak in 2025 – much sooner than expected.

Today, the Politburo eased restrictions again, allowing three children per household and raising the retirement age in the world’s most populous country, where about a quarter of people will be 60 or older by 2030.

While this decision alone fails to stop the slide, given the rising costs of having a child, the question now is whether Xi’s government can offset the decline with investments in productivity gains and increased migration from rural to urban areas.

No baby boom

The number of births in China fell to the lowest since 1961

Source: National Bureau of Statistics, data compiled by demographer He Yafu

Countries facing similar problems have not behaved well. Japan, which was on the verge of overtaking the US economy in the 1980s, has seen those aspirations evaporate as the working-age population shrinks and debt levels rise.

Chinese economists have proposed spending more on pensions, health care and education to counter disinflationary tendencies, as older people earn and spend less. Yet it will also put pressure on China’s budget, potentially increasing debt levels even further.

While the United States and Europe have made up for slowing birth rates with immigrants, China is attracting far fewer foreigners – not least because of its authoritarian political system.

If China is to take the next step as a world power, it will need the help of each of its 1.4 billion people. Dan Ten Kate

Daily life in Shanghai before the Chinese census

A child plays in a park in Shanghai on April 10.

Photographer: Qilai Shen / Bloomberg

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Global Headlines

Change of Israel | Benjamin Netanyahu’s opponents are set to oust him after former ally Naftali Bennett, a pro-settlement security hawk, agreed to join an alternative government. Former Finance Minister Yair Lapid has until Wednesday evening to present a formal agreement for the coalition he is trying to bring together nationalists, centrists and leftists, secular and religious, Arabs and Jews in the most unlikely alliance of annals of Israeli politics.

Final? | World powers have resumed talks in Vienna to reach an agreement between Iran and the United States on relaunching the 2015 nuclear deal. Russia’s main envoy to the talks said in a tweet that the countries concerned agreed that “the current cycle should be final”.

Losing momentum | After witnessing renewed support in recent months before the German federal elections, the Greens have fallen back to second place behind Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led bloc. The latest three opinion polls show the Chancellor’s party increasing as the vaccination rate climbs and lockdowns begin to ease. Merkel is not running in the September 26 elections.

  • A mostly wooden office building for German lawmakers under construction in Berlin is designed to capture carbon dioxide, symbolizing the central role of climate protection in this year’s election, Iain rogers written.

LNG site in Mozambique concerned about insurgent attacks

Sources: ACLED; Exxon; Total; data as of April 12, 2021

If all goes according to plan, one of the poorest countries in the world will be transformed by Africa’s biggest private investment craze, but there is a problem: attacks by Islamist insurgents.

Manage mistrust | Hong Kong is increasingly relying on local businesses and institutions to persuade people to get vaccinated, as the government struggles to overcome an atmosphere of mistrust following widespread anti-China protests in 2019. , restaurants and colleges have started offering cash payments, extra time off, and even the chance to win a $ 1.4 million apartment.

Dig | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that construction of a $ 15 billion canal connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of ​​Marmara as an alternative to the crowded Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul will begin at the end of June. Erdogan is betting that the 45-kilometer (28-mile) Istanbul Canal, strongly opposed by the city’s mayor, will create thousands of jobs and help reverse the trend of declining popularity ahead of the 2023 elections.

Istanbul canal

What to watch this week

  • President Joe Biden has said the United States will stand up for human rights and pledged to raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin at their June 16 summit.
  • West African leaders suspended Mali from the regional bloc after military officers staged the country’s second coup in nine months.
  • The Peruvian presidential race is tightening a week before the second round between left-wing favorite Pedro Castillo and Keiko Fujimori, according to two opinion polls.
  • A Texas voting rights bill that Biden criticized did not pass late overnight, as Democrats who had called it an attempted suppression left chambers ahead of the vote.
  • Colombian President Ivan Duque has deployed more troops in the city of Cali and the surrounding area after heavy clashes that have killed at least 14 people since Friday.

Thanks to the more than 50 people who answered our Friday quiz question and congratulations to Stephen Cardone, who was the first to name Cuba as the nation betting it can solve a worsening Covid-19 crisis. – even with vaccines made by local laboratories.

and finally … Since Carlos Ghosn’s dramatic escape from Lebanon a year and a half ago to avoid a trial in Japan, his main legal risks have shifted to France, where the former auto executive is accused of ‘having siphoned off funds from Renault to pay for a yacht and that of his wife’s birthday party at the Palace of Versailles. From today, French investigators will question the former president of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors in Beirut.

Former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn speaks at USEK press conference


Photographer: Hasan Shaaban / Bloomberg

– With the help of Alan Crawford, Michael Winfrey and Gordon Bell


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