Social Scientist. v 15, no. 174-75 (Nov-Dec 1987) p. 1.

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Demographic Trends and Population Policy in China"

CHINA, WITH a population of over 1,060 million perons at the end of 1986, accounts for 21.4 per cent of the total population of the world (4.96 billion) and for 28.1 per cent of the total population of developing countries (3.77 billion).1 China's land area of 9.6 million square kilometres makes it the third largest country in the world (after the USSR and Canada), with a population density of 109 persons per sq. km. (less than half that of India's 231). However, since only 11 per cent of China's land is considered arable, the difference between China and India with respect to density per square kilometre of arable land is much smaller.

Although China retains the first rank among the nations of the world with respect to population size, the annual increment in population has been higher in India than in China for almost a decade now. Underlying this is China's unique success since about 1971 in sharply lowering its birth rate. To understand this development in the comprehensive perspective of demographic trends in China since its 'liberation' in 1949 is the objective of this paper.

The discussion which follows has been facilitated because of the Chinese having conducted the third national census with a reference date of July 1,1982. The census schedule was quite detailed and its results have been published with remarkable speed. China has also begun sample surveys to ascertain its current vital rates, the results of which are published within two months after the end of the calendar year. These data are con-

* The preparation of this paper has benefited from a brief exposure to China during 30 August 10 September 1986, when the author visited Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou (Canton) as a member of a delegation of Indian social scientists. The group, sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Science Research, participated in a three-day joint seminar on 'Planning and Socio-Economic Development', organised by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the ICSSR.

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