Beijing’s population fell for the first time in 2 decades
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Beijing’s population fell for the first time in 2 decades

FOR the first time in 20 years, the Chinese capital of Beijing’s population has dropped, according to official data.

The Standing Committee of Beijing Municipal People’s Congress said the number of Beijing’s permanent residents stood at 21.707 million in 2017, which was 22,000 fewer than the number in 2016, Xinhua reported.

The committee had reviewed another report which found the number of permanent residents in the city’s six urban districts continue to decrease.

In the past three years, Beijing’s permanent residents declined by 740,000 permanent residents in the six districts, down three percent in 2016 and 2017, the report said.

The falling number of residents falls in line with Beijing’s plan to tackle “big city diseases” such as congested roads and pollution, among others.

SEE ALSO: Will Vietnam follow China down the pollution path? 

What this means

The government’s move to address overpopulation of the megacity is also done with resource shortages and house price inflation in mind.

According to Reuters, the bustling city’s population rose by two thirds since 1998 and with it the energy consumption. The number of vehicles also tripled, leading the government to cap its population at 23 million by the end of the decade.

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This photo taken on Feb 10, 2018 shows a Chinese soldier standing in the main hall while travellers rush before boarding trains at the West Railway Station in Beijing, as people depart the capital ahead of the Lunar New Year. Source: AFP

Part of the government’s solution to overpopulation involved integrating its economy with the neighbouring province of Hebei and the city of Tianjin which involved proposals to relocate universities, government departments and industrial firms.

The mass relocation also involved the building of some infrastructure, including a development zone at Xiongan in Hebei which would take up some of Beijing’s “non-capital” functions.

SEE ALSO: Order and chaos in China’s cities of multi-million migrants 

The government has also invested heavily in transportation networks to allow easier long-distance commutes.

Amid its drive to control the number of inhabitants in cities, China is also facing an ageing population problem.

The government has been trying to boost the birth rate, which fell last year and is expected to decline further this year.

By the end of 2035, China’s elderly population is expected to reach 400 million by the end of 2035. Currently, the figure stood at 240 million this year, which is already straining health services and pension funds, according to the China Association of Social Security.