(TibetanReview.net, Dec25’21) – It is easier to control births by coercive measures, for which the communist party-state of China is not only well-equipped but has also earned much infamy over the last four decades, than to get the population to marry and have children, for which it is now struggling with a bit of desperation. After an article published last month by China’s official China Reports Network asked party members to get married and have three children each as an act of party loyalty and national patriotism, Jilin province in northeast China is offering up to 200,000 yuan ($31,400) of “marriage and birth consumer loans” to married couples.
While there were no details on how the government would offer this support, the proposal includes discounted interest rates for the loans that vary according to the number of children a couple has, reported the bloomberg.com Dec 24.
Other favourable measures in the Jilin policy was stated to include allowing couples from other provinces to obtain a residence permit — known as hukou — and access public services in Jilin, if they have children and register them there.
And couples having two or three kids will also get tax discounts if they set up a small business, the report said, citing the document which was issued Dec 23.
Also, like many other provinces, Jilin is extending maternity and paternity leave. Women will have 180 days of leave in total, up from 158 days previously, while men are entitled to 25 days, up from 15 days, the report said.
As the spectre of China growing old before it becomes rich looms large to the disappointment of the party leadership, the government has effectively abandoned any limit on the number of children a couple can have and has been trying to make it less expensive to raise a family. However, some demographers are estimating that China’s population may have already started shrinking, the report said.
Neither power nor money on both of which the Chinese party-state bets for its rise to global supremacy appears to help in this case.
The consumer loan has attracted controversy on social media platform Weibo, the report noted.
“Families that need a loan to raise kids wouldn’t want to have them in the first place, and it’s not a good thing to increase their financial burden,” one post was quoted as saying.
“After mortgage and car loans, now we have the birth loan. We are just working for the bank our entire life,” another person was stated to have lamented.
Jilin, which is part of China’s “rust belt” region known for heavy industry and agriculture, has seen the worst population declines and slow economic growth over the past decade. Its economy expanded 7.8% in the first three quarters of this year from the same period in 2020, slower than the national average of 9.8%, the report noted.
Most of the measures adopted by China to encourage young people to get married and have more children seem to have failed in sharp contrast to the great success of its one-child policy enforced with brutal efficiency since 1980. Earlier this year, a Bank of China branch in the southeastern province of Jiangxi drew widespread criticism for promoting a loan product that targeted couples who just had a child.
The bank later said that it was only assessing the product and decided not to launch it because there wasn’t enough demand, the report noted, citing local media.