CBN Friday Special丨Did Ren Zeping open a Pandora’s box?

China Business Now李莹亮,见习记者张然 2022-01-14 19:37

三分钟音频,中英文带你速览中国经济头条。

S: Hi everyone. Welcome to CBN Friday Special, I’m Stephanie LI.

R: And I’m ZHANG Ran. In today’s special program, we’ll be talking about the “maternity funds” suggestion made by Ren Zeping. Ren is quite a popular economist in China, isn’t he? 

S: I supposed so. Ren is the country’s highest-paid strategist and a former chief economist at Evergrande Think Tank. He has made a name for himself commenting on China’s stock market and social media topics such as the Metaverse and new energy. 

R: Actually, it’s not the first time he has waded into discussions on China’s fertility rate. This time, his suggestion has sparked public discussions on the internet. So what did Ren say?

S: Basically, Ren suggested the central bank to print more money to boost China’s birthrate. He published a report on Monday saying that China should print an additional 2 trillion yuan annually for a decade, which could help cover various costs associated with some 50 million newborns, to solve the ageing population issue and the falling birthrate.

R: That sounds... interesting to me. And I remember him saying “we must seize the time in which those born between 1975 and 1985 who can still give birth, and introduce a fertility encouragement fund,” suggesting that “don’t have too many expectations of the post-90s and post-00s generations.”

S: So the idea of urging older mums in their 30s and 40s, rather than younger ones who are still in their 20s to have more babies, have drawn huge backlash on social media. Weibo users argued that giving birth is a matter of personal choice, and money wouldn’t solve the country’s demographic crisis. Others questioned if printing trillions of yuan in maternity funds would lead to inflation and an increase in property prices. 

Hong Hao, a Chinese economist and chief strategist of BOCOM International Research Department, refuted Ren’s proposal, saying that “overseas experience has proved that printing money has nothing to do with fertility, and establishing the special fertility fund is also in vain.” 

R: But Ren still stands behind his theory. He responded on Tuesday that the additional 2 trillion yuan won’t lead to inflation, but will on the contrary help stimulate demand and stabilise growth. However, his account on Weibo was banned Wednesday for “violating relevant laws and regulations,” so did his WeChat public account.

S: I guess Ren’s suggestion could sound a bit jaw-dropping to many people. But his proposal does come from a bigger backdrop in which China struggles to shake off fears that its fertility rate has been dropping calamitously since the last national census results were published in May 2021. The statistics triggered major central government policy changes including the move from a two-child policy to a three-child policy, as well as efforts to incentivise families to raise more children. So, Ran, what do you know about the 2021 national census?

R: In short, China’s seventh national population census showed that the growth rate of the country’s population has slowed, and the total fertility rate in China has dropped to a relatively low level. 

And according to China Statistical Yearbook 2021, China’s birth rate fell below 1 percent for the first time in 2020, which means the trend of a declining birth rate continues, and China will experience zero-population growth earlier than estimated. 

Driven by a low fertility rate, the decreasing young population may exacerbate the economic slowdown. According to population development rules, an imbalance in population age structure could cause a labor shortage even in the most populous countries. 

So in order to encourage couples to have more children, several provinces and regions have announced a raft of measures, such as handing out monthly cash incentives and housing allowance to couples with multiple children, extending maternity and paternity leaves and policies for new mothers to return to work after childbirth.

S: Some Chinese companies are joining the call to boost birth rate of employees. For example, animal fodder manufacturer Dabeinong Technology became the latest Chinese firm to offer one-off payments to both male and female employees to encourage them to have more kids. Company staff will be awarded 30,000 yuan ($4,707) for the birth of their first child, 60,000 yuan for the second child and 90,000 yuan ($14,121) for the third child. 

Ctrip, the country’s biggest online travel agency, have been funding female employees up to 2 million yuan to freeze their eggs. Ctrip’s founder Liang Jianzhang has voiced his support for Ren’s proposal, and even doubled down on it, saying that there should cost 5 trillion yuan to cover the costs of infrastructures and subsidies to boost childbirth. 

R: However, we still see many young Chinese pushing back on marriage and prioritising their careers and social life over family, while most couples with children have been reluctant to have more children despite the country scrapping restrictive birth policies. 

S: That’s also a reality in China we shouldn’t look away from, and it resonates with Ren’s theory in a way. Although “baby talk” is important, the COVID-19 pandemic outbreaks across China also need our continued attention. Ran, could you give us more details? 

R: On Thursday, mainland China reported 143 new local COVID-19 cases, with the majority in Henan province and the northern port city of Tianjin. Infections in Xi’an remained in single digits, as the northwestern city entered its fourth week of lockdown. Shanghai reported two local cases yesterday, which were linked to an individual with international travel history. Approaching the Winter Olympics, Beijing health authorities yesterday banned all travels from any domestic location that spots COVID cases.

S: Last but not least, let’s take a quick look at the stock markets. Chinese stocks closed mixed on Friday with healthcare stocks rising across the board. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.96 percent, while the Shenzhen Component edged up 0.09 percent. The Hang Seng Index fell 0.19 percent as the TECH Index shed 0.48 percent. 

任泽平2万亿“催生”建议遭群嘲,微博号进而被禁言,究竟是怎么回事?“印钱生娃”行得通吗?我们今天来讨论一下。

先简单回顾一下事情来龙去脉。1月10日,任泽平在微信公众号泽平宏观上发表《解决低生育的办法找到了——中国生育报告》。他提出,尽快建立鼓励生育基金,央行多印2万亿,用10年让社会多生5000万孩子,解决人口老龄化少子化问题。

他在报告中指出,一定要抓住1975-1985年这一代还能生的时间窗口,不要指望90后00后。当日,“经济学家建议央行多印2万亿”话题迅速冲上微博热搜,掀起舆论热议。

此言一出,立刻引起不少专家质疑,印钱无法解决生育问题,并且印2万亿鼓励生育,可能造成通货膨胀。交银国际董事总经理、研究部主管洪灏认为,海外经验证明,印钱和生育率没有关系,设立专项生育基金也是徒劳。

21世纪经济报道发表社论文章指出,中国如果用财政赤字货币化的方式解决当前的问题,很可能会如同打开潘多拉的盒子,让生育和人口挑战越来越严峻。因此,在激励生育方面我们要在战略上重视,但它是一个长期问题,需要创造促进生育的系统性环境,而非“一针见效”的强刺激。

面对质疑,任泽平发表回应表示2万亿不会造成通货膨胀,因为“专款专用”。他甚至提出,央行印2万亿元鼓励生育,短期会有助于拉大需求、稳增长,长期还会有助于社会活力、经济长期健康发展。

12日晚间,任泽平微博被禁言,其微博显示:“因违反相关法律法规,该用户目前处于禁言状态。”同时,此前任泽平在其微信公众号“泽平宏观”上的两篇文章——《解决低生育的办法找到了——中国生育报告》、《关于“鼓励生育基金”的几点回应》均已被删除。

人口总量增速放缓,生育率下滑,使得中国的人口问题引发关注。2021年第七次全国人口普查数据显示,与2010年第六次全国人口普查数据相比,过去十年间,全国人口的年平均增长率下降0.04百分点;2020年,我国育龄妇女总和生育率为1.3,处于较低水平。

《中国统计年鉴2021》显示,2020年全国人口出生率为千8.52‰,首次跌破1%。这意味着中国的生育率仍在下降,人口负增长可能提前。研究表明,劳动年龄人口数量减少所带来的劳动力供给量减少,将导致劳动力市场供给短缺问题日益凸显。

2021年5月,中共中央政治局召开会议,审议《关于优化生育政策促进人口长期均衡发展的决定》并指出,为进一步优化生育政策,实施一对夫妻可以生育三个子女政策及配套支持措施。此后,各省市市也积极出台鼓励生育的相关措施,如延长孕产期带薪休假时长、发展普惠托育服务体系、租房照顾、购房补贴等。

企业也积极出台政策,鼓励员工生育。1月9日消息,农牧业上市公司大北农对员工推出鼓励优育方案,包括延长产假,发放奖励,给男性员工提供陪产假等。携程董事长梁建章甚至建议用5万亿补贴鼓励生育。

相信中国人口问题的挑战并非一夜之间能找到解决之道,应对新冠疫情也一样。1月13日,全国新增本土病例143例(河南98例,其中安阳市69例、许昌市25例、郑州市4例;天津34例,其中津南区28例、西青区3例、河西区2例、红桥区1例;陕西8例,均在西安市;上海2例,其中普陀区1例、宝山区1例;广东1例,在中山市)。

北京冬奥会在即,12日下午,北京新冠肺炎疫情防控工作领导小组强调,对有14日内中高风险地区所在县(市、区、旗)旅居史的进返京人员严格居家观察、核酸检测等措施;严防风险人员通过第三地进返京;坚持一触即发,对出现病例的所在市落实停航、停售、暂停进返京等防疫政策。

最后来看股市行情。周五A股涨跌不一,沪指收跌0.96%,深成指涨0.09%。医药股全天大涨,多股涨停。港股恒生指数跌0.19%,科技指数跌0.48%。

Executive Editor: Sonia YU

Editor: LI Yanxia

Host: Stephanie LI, ZHANG Ran

Writer: Stephanie LI, ZHANG Ran, WEN Sixian

Producer: XIANG Xiufang

Sound Editor: ZHANG Ran, Andy YUAN

Graphic Designer: ZHENG Wenjing, LIAO Wanni

Co-produced by 21st Century Business Herald Dept. of Overseas News & SFC Audio/Video Dept.

Presented by SFC

编委:  于晓娜

策划、编辑:李艳霞 

播音:李莹亮、张然

撰稿:李莹亮、张然、温思娴

监制:向秀芳 

音频制作:张然、袁思杰 

设计:郑文静、廖苑妮

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(作者:李莹亮,见习记者张然 编辑:李艳霞)