As we race into the May Day holiday, there was the interesting question this week of just how many people there are in China. The National Bureau of Statistics is scheduled to announce the once-in-a decade latest count real soon now, and the FT had a story saying that the number would show the population has already started to shrink—a year-on-year decline for 2020, the first since the great famines of the late 1950s. But then the Stats Bureau leapt in with a statement saying that the country’s population increased in 2020. One explanation is that the numbers for 2011 to 2019 are being re-calculated, but one way or the other, it suggests that China’s population is leveling out much faster than expected—it was previously estimated that the population would peak in 2027. This has interesting implications in terms of the psychology of the whole nation. Why does it matter? Answer—it impacts on the sense of national identity, as well as having big economic implications. India’s population is growing much faster, even with the unfolding virus nightmare, and we are not too far away, it would seem, from the point where the standard line is: India, the world’s most populous nation.
In other news before the holiday, Huawei reported a big drop in quarterly revenues, the EU-China investment deal may have difficulty getting ratified by the European Parliament, iron ore demand is soaring, and the big tech companies, now including Meituan, are under big big pressure to clean up their acts to show they are acting in the interests of the state and the people, and not just slavishly fighting for profit. Jack is also being very quiet. But enough of all that—the people of China are going on holiday, backed by a sense of relief that they are not locked into a virus nightmare like India.
More after the break.