China media: Ageing concerns

Father and son on visit to Tiananmen Square in Beijing - 5 December, 2013 Image copyright AFP
Image caption China strictly enforced its one-child policy until 2013

Papers worry about China's ageing population after reports suggest that fewer couples have shown interest in having a second child.

China relaxed its three-decade-old one-child birth control policy in 2013, allowing couples to have two children if either parent is an only child.

However, officials say the change in policy has attracted fewer applications than their estimates.

According to the nation's top family planning authority, at least 11 million couples are eligible to have a second child, but fewer than one million have applied, the China Daily reports.

Lu Jiehua, a professor of demography at Peking University, says that "rapid urbanisation has changed the public's opinion about having babies".

The National Health and Family Planning Commission points out that the number of people above the age of 60 will reach 400 million, which is one-quarter of the population, in the early 2030s.

Huang Wenzheng, an expert on population, expects the number of applicants to continue to decline this year.

"The two-child policy will not solve the ageing problem because many young couples prefer not to have children," the pundit tells the Global Times, suggesting the government needs to completely abolish fines on birth control violations to encourage couples to have children.

The Xinhua News Agency observes that parents from different parts of China have been "cold" towards the policy adjustment.

According to a survey conducted by the news agency, 67% of those surveyed cited "high costs of raising a child" as the main reason for not wanting a second child, while not having enough time was another reason.

The state-run media points out that the government needs to comprehensively review its population policy because the trend may lead to a shift in demographic structure as the population ages.

Anti-corruption fight

Meanwhile, papers shine a spotlight on anti-corruption efforts as the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the party's anti-graft watchdog, started its three-day meeting on Monday.

The meeting is expected to summarise progress of the campaign so far and to lay out plans for the year ahead, says the Global Times.

"The CCDI in the past often talked about its determination to crack down on both 'tigers and flies'. This time it will sum up its achievements and analyse some different voices on the anti-graft fight," Wang Yukai, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, tells the paper.

Beijing-based political analyst Zhang Lifan tells the South China Morning Post that the campaign will focus on the party's factions this year.

The Hong Kong-based paper notes that media outlets in the mainland "have exposed more secret connections" as the anti-graft effort gathered pace.

The People's Daily and the China Daily attempt to correct the "fallacies" surrounding the on-going anti-corruption campaign.

Both papers note that sceptics have said that the campaign is "useless" because too many officials are involved and "greed is just part of human nature".

"As anti-graft effort deepens, we cannot take these myths lightly. We should be careful of those who are spreading such an idea," warns the People's Daily.

"The fight against corruption is an important self-correction and self-adjustment of the Party… The house sweeping will make the Party clean and tidy. The Party's image will be improved, along with its vitality and popularity as the campaign deepens," adds the China Daily.

'Symbolising obedience'

And finally, papers criticise a school for asking its students to perform rituals that "symbolise" obedience.

According to the Liberation Daily, more than 800 elementary students from a private school in Shanghai recently wore ancient Chinese costumes and made "three kowtows and nine prostrations" to express gratitude to their parents.

The school explained that the ceremony, attended by 1500 people, was in accordance with Confucianism, a Chinese ancient ethical and philosophical system.

This comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the importance of Confucianism and traditional Chinese culture last year.

However, critics are not impressed with the school's effort.

An article in the Beijing Times describes the school's "replication of traditional ceremonies" as "meaningless".

"Filial piety [reverence for parents] is not about kneeling down or being submissive, but it is about respecting the elders. The act of kneeling is contrary to the spirit of independent thinking and character building," says the paper, urging educators not to become a "laughing stock" by blindly copying traditional rituals.

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