China’s Population Growth Slows Down

China has recorded the slowest growth rate of its population since the 1950s. The most populous country in the world grew only 5.4% in the last ten years. Experts say that the population will be leveling off or maybe even shrinking in the next decade.

Currently, 1.41 billion people live in China, only slightly more than in the second most populous country, India. In 2020, only 12 million babies were born, compared to 15 million a year earlier. On average, every Chinese woman gives birth to 1.3 children.

One of the main reasons for China’s declining birth rate is the country’s one-child policy, which has been in effect for decades. It was introduced at the end of the 1970s in an attempt to stop the country’s exploding population. Today, however, the government is encouraging families to have more than one child.

The country’s low birth rate and high proportion of elderly people will cause problems in the near future. Chinese authorities are afraid there will not be enough young workers for the booming economy. In addition, almost 20% of the population is over 60, resulting in higher health care costs and more money the government needs to pay for pensions.

Chinese family with one child in a park in Beijing
Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • attempt = try
  • authorities = the people who are in power in an organization and can make decisions
  • billion = a thousand million = 1,000,000,000
  • birth rate = the number of babies born for every 1,000 people per year
  • booming = growing very strongly
  • currently = at the moment, right now
  • decade = ten years
  • decline = go down
  • elderly = older
  • encourage = to get someone to do something
  • exploding = here: growing fast and out of control
  • growth rate = here: how fast a country’s population grows
  • health care = the services that a country uses to keep its population healthy
  • however = but
  • in addition = also
  • in effect = to be law
  • introduce = start
  • level off = stay the same; not grow anymore
  • most populous = with the most people
  • near future = soon
  • on average = here: if you count all the women in the country
  • pension = the money a worker gets from the government when he is too old to work
  • policy = the government’s way of doing something
  • proportion = part of the whole
  • record = to write down information and keep it for later generations
  • resulting in = leading to
  • shrink = go down
  • slightly = a little

China Launches First Module of Space Station

China has successfully launched the first module of its space station, called Tianhe or Heavenly Harmony, from the island of Hainan. The module contains the living quarters for crew members.

After 10 missions to deliver parts to low Earth orbit, China’s space station is expected to be fully operational by 2022. It will be used for scientific and medical experiments. 12 astronauts are currently training to live in space for a longer period of time.

China’s space station will not be as large as the International Space Station ISS, but similar to the Russian Mir space station which was in operation between 1986 and 2001.

The construction of its own space station is seen as a further step in China’s ambitious billion-dollar space program. The first satellite was launched in 1970 and the first manned mission was carried out in 2003. Recently a lunar probe has brought back the first samples from the moon since the 1970s.

Illustration of the Chinese Space Station and its modules
Saggittarius A, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • ambitious = if you really want to be successful in doing something
  • currently = at the moment
  • deliver = bring
  • further = another
  • launch = here: to start a rocket into space
  • living quarters = rooms where the astronauts live
  • lunar probe= unmanned spaceship that landed on the moon
  • manned mission = space flight where people are on board
  • module = part
  • operational = working and ready to be used
  • orbit = to move around a planet
  • recently = a short time ago
  • samples = here : rocks from the moon
  • satellite = object that is sent to space and moves around the Earth, moon or other planet
  • similar = like