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Crowded train station in China. Photo from Michael Yamashita

China no longer world’s most populous nation?

The South China Morning Post reports that Yi Fuxian 易富贤, a medical researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said at a symposium at Peking University on Monday that “China’s real population may have been about 1.29 billion last year, 90 million fewer people than the official figure released by the National Bureau of Statistics.” If Yi is correct, India, with more than 1.3 billion people, is now the world’s most populous country, overtaking China five years ahead of forecasts,” according to India Today.

Yi’s book, Big Country With an Empty Nest (大国空巢 dàguó kōngcháo), argues that China needs more people, not fewer. Published in Hong Kong in 2007, it was “promptly banned on the Chinese mainland,” says the New York Times, for its arguments against the one-child policy. However, the book was published “by a high-level state publisher” in the mainland in 2013, “the same year that China relaxed the restrictions on births, allowing couples where one partner was an only child to have two children.” Birth restrictions were further relaxed in 2016 — for more on this subject, you can listen to the Sinica Podcast with Mei Fong, author of the book One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment

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