Census: Positive changes in China over past decade

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Data released on Thursday from China's recent census, which covered 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities last year, reflects the major positive changes that took place in China's social and economic landscape over the past decade.


The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Thursday that China's mainland population hit 1.34 billion people on November 1 last year, about 74 million more than in 2000, when China conducted its last census.

The data showed an annual average population growth of 0.57 percent over the past decade (2000-2010) on the Chinese mainland, slower than the 1990-2000 growth rate of 1.07 percent.

"The new rate indicates that the country's swift population growth has been effectively controlled, thanks to improved family planning policies," said Ma Jiantang, director of the NBS.

"This has eased pressure on natural resource consumption and the environment and laid a relatively good foundation for steady economic and social development in China," Ma added.

China implemented a one-child-per-couple policy in 1980.

Chinese President Hu Jintao Tuesday said China will stick to and improve its current family planning policy and maintain a low birth rate.

China should adhere to the basic state policy of family planning and deal with its population problems with the aim of achieving all-round development of people, said Hu.


The number of college-educated Chinese more than doubled on the Chinese mainland over the past decade, according to census data.

About 8,930 people out of every 100,000 on China's mainland had received a college-level education as of 2010, a significantly higher number than the 2000 census figure of 3,611 people out of every 100,000.

The census data showed that about 120 million Chinese on the mainland had acquired a college degree by 2010.

Illiteracy rate dropped to 4.08 percent, down 2.64 percentage points from the 2000 figure.

The changes indicate that China's promotion of a nine-year compulsory education program, as well as its efforts to boost higher education and eradicate illiteracy, have all created progress, said Ma.

"This shows that the education quality of China's population is increasing," Ma said.

In a Tuesday address, Chinese President Hu called for efforts to improve educational quality and build China into a country with strong human resources.

China has injected a great deal of financial support into its education sector in recent years. Free nine-year compulsory education programs were fully implemented in 2008. China has also increased funding support for college students from poor families, pledging to help them stay in school even when they cannot afford to do so.


Census figures showed that China's mainland urban population in 2010 totaled 665.57 million, or 49.68 percent of the country's total population, an increase of 13.46 percentage points over the 2000 figure.

The urban-to-total-population ratio on the mainland rose by 9.86 percentage points in comparison to the same ratio in 1990.

Ma said the data demonstrates an increasing level of urbanization, industrialization and modernization on China's mainland over the past decade.

The proportion of permanent residents living in relatively-developed eastern regions rose by 2.41 percentage points to 37.98 percent over the past 10 years, according to census data.

The data also showed that people who migrated between urban and rural regions in 2010 totaled 221 million, an 82.89 percent increase over the 2000 figure.

"Judging from migration data, our economy has seen a boost in vitality over the past decade, as more people migrated from the inland and western regions to the economically developed eastern coastal areas," Ma said.

Ma added that this kind of population flow is conducive to creating balanced development between the country's urban and rural regions.

Millions of farmers have migrated to China's coastal regions and major cities to find work since the late 1980s. Over the years, migrant workers have become the backbone of China's industrial labor force.


The census data also indicated that the proportion of young Chinese is shrinking as the elderly population grows.

China still faces an above-normal gender ratio of 118 males born for every 100 females in the 2000-2010, higher than the ratio of 116.86 from the 2000 census.

"The gender ratio of 118.06 is still beyond the normal range. We must pay great attention to this problem and take more effective measures to promote sex equality in terms of employment and salaries," Ma said.

Ma said China needs to pay close attention to changes in its demographic landscape by "adhering to the family planning policy while cautiously and gradually improving the policy to promote more balanced population growth in the country," Ma said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao urged more efforts to address problems concerning the gender ratio and gender equity on Tuesday.

Hu stressed orderly migration and reasonable population distribution, and said that management and services for "floating" populations should be improved.

The president also urged efforts to improve social security and senior citizen aid services, as well as create new strategies to cope with an aging population.

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