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China population falls as more families refuse to bear children

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China has announced its first population decline in decades as what has been the world’s most populous nation ages and its birthrate plunges.

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National Bureau of Statistics reported Tuesday that the country had 850,000 fewer people at the end of 2022 than the previous year. The tally includes only the population of mainland China, excluding Hong Kong and Macao as well as foreign residents.

That left a total of 1.41 billion people, with 9.56 million births against 10.41 million deaths, the bureau said at a briefing on Tuesday.

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Men outnumbered women by 722.06 million to 689.69 million, a result of the strict one-child policy that only officially ended in 2016 and a traditional preference for male offspring to carry on the family name.

Since abandoning the policy, China has sought to encourage families to have second or even third children, with little success, reflecting attitudes in much of east Asia where birth rates have fallen precipitously.

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In China, the expense of raising children in cities is often cited as a cause.

China has long been the world’s most populous nation, but is expected to soon be overtaken by India, if it has not already. Estimates put India’s population at more than 1.4 billion and continuing to grow.

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The last time China is believed to have recorded a population decline was during the Great Leap Forward at the end of the 1950s, under then-leader Mao Zedong’s disastrous drive for collective farming and industrialization that produced a massive famine killing tens of millions of people.

Yi Fuxian, an expert on Chinese population trends at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, tweeted that the data reflected how China’s population began to decline nine to 10 years earlier than projections by Chinese officials and the United Nations.

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That means that China’s “real demographic crisis is beyond imagination and that all of China’s past … policies were based on faulty demographic data,” Yi wrote.

“China’s demographic and economic outlook is much bleaker than expected,” he added, predicting that China would have to take a less combative tone internationally and improve is relations with the West.

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China’s statistics bureau said the working-age population between 16 and 59 years old totaled 875.56 million, accounting for 62.0% of the national population, while those aged 65 and older totaled 209.78 million, accounting for 14.9% of the total.

The statistics also showed increasing urbanization in a country that traditionally had been largely rural.

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Over 2022, the permanent urban population increased by 6.46 million to reach 920.71 million, or 65.22%, while the rural population fell by 7.31 million.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the population figures have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak that was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan before spreading around the world.

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China has been accused by some specialists of underreporting deaths from the virus by blaming them on underlying conditions, but no estimates of the actual number have been published.

The United Nations estimated last year that the world’s population reached 8 billion on Nov. 15 and that India will replace China as the world’s most populous nation in 2023.

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In a report released on World Population Day, the U.N. also said global population growth fell below 1% in 2020 for the first time since 1950.

Also Tuesday, the bureau released data showing China’s economic growth fell to its second-lowest level in at least four decades last year under pressure from anti-virus controls and a real estate slump.

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The world’s No. 2 economy grew by 3% in 2022, less than half of the previous year’s 8.1%, the data showed.

That was the second-lowest annual rate since at least the 1970s, after the drop to 2.4% in 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, although activity is reviving after restrictions that kept millions of people at home and sparked protests were lifted.

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Foreign

Airlines cancel over 1,400 U.S. flights as ice storm hits multiple states

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Kayode Arewa Sanni

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Airlines canceled over 1,400 flights in the United States on Wednesday, after an ice storm hit states from Texas to West Virginia.
A total of 1,467 flights within, into or out of the United States were canceled, while 527 flights were delayed as of 6.48 a.m. ET, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.
The Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, on Tuesday warned in a tweet that travelers could expect to see some snowy conditions in certain areas including Dallas, Fort Worth and Memphis, which could delay certain flights.
“The ongoing winter storm will continue to bring hazardous impacts to North and Central Texas through at least early Thursday morning,” The U.S. National Weather Service said in its Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area forecast discussion.
Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines Co, LUV.N, led cancellations with 487 flights, while Fort Worth, Texas-based peer American Airlines Group Inc, AAL.O, closely followed, canceling nearly 480 flights.
Southwest and American did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
The latest cancellations come nearly a month after Southwest faced U.S. government backlash for canceling 16,700 flights over the holidays, as it grappled with bad weather and outdated technology.

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USAID grants $2.1million to 40 organizations promoting conflict resolution in Northeast Nigeria

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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has expended the sum of $2.1 million on 40 organisations working on conflict resolution across 90 communities in North East region of Nigeria.

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The grant was for a two-year conflict mitigation activity tagged: ‘Building Community Resilience to Violent Extremism and Conflict in Northeast Nigeria’.

The programme, also known as Northeast Connection, was designed to equip participants with the skills required to counter violent conflict.

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Since 2021, Northeast Connection promoted nonviolent conflict resolution from the grassroots to state government levels in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states. The activity provided capacity building for the 40 local organizations to strengthen local civil society groups and promote local solutions to violence.

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At the closeout of the programme, Conflict Specialist USAID, Nigeria, Mukhtari Shitu said USAID was committed to enduring partnerships with the Nigerian government institutions and civil societies to mitigate violent conflict in the country.

 

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Implemented by Creative Associates, the USAID-supported conflict resolution activity in 90 communities across 15 local government areas (LGAs) in the three states.

The Northeast Connection established 181 peace platforms that supported community organizers to identify and advocate for social priorities; trained more than 22,000 people in conflict mitigation and cross-community dialogues; and provided trauma-informed psychosocial support to more than 4,300 community members.

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In Yobe State, the activity worked with the emergency management agency to launch the first-ever two-year Early Recovery Plan which equipped the agency with the ability to respond to and recover from disasters more effectively.

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It would be recalled that violent conflict has devastated social and governance structures and local markets in Northeast Nigeria. The ongoing insurgency by violent extremist groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS West Africa has killed over 35,000 and displaced 2.2 million people. The region also struggles with regular inter communal clashes between farmers, herders, and other groups over land and water resources.

The Northeast connection activity is part of USAID’s strategic effort to decrease conflict and instability and promote stability and early recovery in Nigeria.

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George Weah To Seek Re-Election As Liberian President

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Liberian President and former international football star George Weah announced on Monday he would stand for re-election later this year.

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The announcement comes amid mounting criticism of Weah, who is accused of being out of touch with the population facing rising prices and food shortages.

“My fellow citizens, I will be coming to you shortly to ask you to renew (…) for a second time the mandate that you gave me six years ago,” Weah said in his annual State of the Nation address.

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The election is slated for October 10 in the West African country.

Weah came to power in 2018 after winning an October 2017 election.

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The 56-year-old was absent from Liberia for more than a month late last year, prompting criticism.

He went abroad at the end of October for a string of political gatherings in numerous countries — and to watch his footballer son represent the United States at the World Cup in Qatar.

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The president was not until December 18 seen in his homeland, where people have been battling soaring prices and shortages of basic goods.

The day before several hundred Liberians had demonstrated peacefully at the call of the opposition to denounce the incompetence but also Weah’s indifference to the plight of ordinary Liberians.

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Fighting corruption had been one of Weah’s major campaign promises, but in September he accepted the resignations of three close allies after the United States accused them of corruption.

Weah had initially suspended the men from their roles after Washington imposed sanctions on them over allegations tied to multi-million-dollar contracts and at least $1.5 million in diverted public funds.

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Graft remains endemic, with the watchdog Transparency International ranking Liberia 136th of 180 countries in its 2021 corruption perceptions index.

Founded as a colony in 1822 by former US slaves, Liberia became a republic 25 years later — Africa’s first.

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It is still recovering from back-to-back civil wars that left 250,000 people dead.

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