Beijing population hits 21 million

By Marina Garvey Birch, January 24, 2014

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It was announced on Thursday that Beijing's population has reached 21.15 million, a 2.2 percent increase on 2012.

Xinhua reports that permanent residents in the Chinese capital have increased by 455,000 since the end of 2012. According to UN data, the population has doubled in just over a decade.

Policy and regulation is in action to curb population growth because the city does not have the means to support it. There are a worrying number of residents over 60 in Beijing, stressing the city's elderly care system. Furthermore, continued population growth may hinder success in tackling Beijing's traffic and environmental problems. Mayor Wang Anshun stated that controlling the population rate in Beijing will be a top priority for his government, which is attempting to balance strained resource levels among other issues. 

Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics deputy Xia Qinfang announced that migrants make up 8.03 million of the cities population. Citing a reduction in migrants working in labour-intensive industries such as manufacturing and catering in 2013 as a main factor for the slow growth of that segment of the population, Xia added that the increase correlated with the slower growth of the economy. 

The future of the Beijing population was a hot topic at the annual meetings of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress and the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference which finished on Wednesday. ECNS reports that the city's Party chief Guo Jinlong pointed out that when per capita GDP reaches 120,945 yuan ($20,000), the city will need to address access to healthcare, education and pension services for migrants. Guo referred to 'deeper reform' as a way to address the needs of old and new residents. Over nine days of meetings, the question of population control appeared in reports 182 times.

[Image: A passenger purchases a railway ticket at a ticket window in the Beijing West Railway Station on January 9, 2014. Via: CRI]

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