According to government data, China's population decreased for the first time in almost six decades last year as the world's most populous nation faces an impending demographic crisis.
Beijing's National Bureau of Statistics reported Tuesday that the national population was 1,411.75 million at the end of 2022, 0.85 million fewer than at the end of 2021.
As its workforce ages, birth rates in the nation of 1,4 billion have plummeted to historic lows, a rapid decrease that some say might stifle economic growth and strain already-strapped public coffers.
The last time China's population decreased was in 1960, during the worst modern famine precipitated by Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward agriculture policy.
In 2016, China ended its rigorous "one-child policy", which had been in place since the 1980s due to fears of overpopulation, and in 2021 couples were permitted to have three children.
However, this has not reversed the demographic decrease.
Economy grows at the lowest rate in 40 years
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a real estate crisis, China's economy will increase by 3.0% in 2022, according to figures given by the government on Tuesday. This is one of the lowest rates in the past four decades.
Beijing had set a goal of 5.5%, which was already much lower than the performance of 2021 when the country's GDP expanded by more than 8%.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China's GDP expanded 2.9% annually in the fourth quarter, compared to 3.9% in the third quarter.
As 2022 drew to a close, the world's second-largest economy faced unprecedented hurdles, with exports plummeting last month due to a decline in global demand and strict health controls hampered economic activity.
China's growth figures on Tuesday were the weakest since a 1.6 contraction in 1976, when Mao Zedong died, omitting 2020 after the coronavirus surfaced in Wuhan in late 2019.
Last year, China's economic difficulties reverberated throughout a global supply chain already battling declining demand.
As a result of strict lockdowns, quarantines, and mandatory mass testing, manufacturing facilities and enterprises in major hubs were abruptly shut down, including the largest iPhone facility in Zhengzhou.
In response to countrywide demonstrations, Beijing dramatically eased pandemic restrictions at the start of December.
The World Bank predicts China's GDP will increase to 4.3% in 2023, which is still below projections.