Since China introduced its one child policy in 1979, the country’s population has soared from around 950 million people to around 1.4 billion today.
The policy was blunt, even brutal, but it seems reasonable to assume that the population of China would be vastly bigger today if it had not come in, perhaps close to two billion.
Americans are still vastly richer today than Chinese people, with a per capita income more than five times greater than the latter.
Yet China is now well on the way to being as rich as the United States in absolute terms (it is almost two thirds as wealthy overall).
The reason for this apparent discrepancy is simple: China has many more people than America, so it can be as rich as the US in absolute terms while still having a much smaller per capita wealth.
The more China’s population rises, the easier it is for it to become the richest and most powerful nation on Earth.
This matters greatly to the world at large, because it has implications for which country will be the global superpower.
Many enlightened Europeans like to scoff at American ruthlessness. Wait until they see what China is like if it gets into the driving seat.
The mere demand by protesting students in 1989 for democracy resulted in them being crushed (in many cases literally by tanks) and hundreds of deaths. Democracy has been largely off the agenda since then.
If the rest of the world is lucky, the westernisation of China will do two things: it will cause the society to liberalise further, reform and become more like us.
And it will cause couples to have smallish families in any event, thus preventing a population boom.
Global resources are already under serious strain, given the substantial recent rises in world population, without China shooting up faster as well.