Weibo bars Chinese economist’s posts after suggestion to boost birth rate
14 January, 2022, 7:10 pm
BEIJING, Jan 13 (Reuters) – A high-profile Chinese economist has been banned from posting on the Weibo social media platform after drawing controversy over suggestions that the central bank set up a $314 billion “fertility fund” to encourage people to have more babies.
The Weibo account of Ren Zeping, a former chief economist for debt-laden property giant China Evergrande Group (3333.HK), where he has 3.6 million followers, carries a notice saying that “due to violations of related laws and regulations, the user is currently banned from posting.”
The ban, imposed on Wednesday, will last two weeks, according to the state-run Securities Times newspaper, citing unidentified sources.
Ren this week published two essays suggesting that the “most pragmatic and most effective” way to increase China’s plunging birth rate would be for the central bank to print 2 trillion yuan ($314 billion) for a fertility fund to be distributed as monthly cash payments for every child.
Ren did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
For decades, China imposed a strict “one child” policy to limit population growth.
The birth rate in 2020 dropped to a record-low of 8.52 births per 1,000 people, or below 1%, official statistics showed last November and in May, the government announced that married couples may have up to three children in a bid to boost births.
His WeChat account, however, remains active although he did not post anything new after the Weibo ban. The Securities Times also reported that the Weibo ban did not apply to other social media platforms.
No stranger to controversy, Ren began his career as an economist with the research arm of China’s State Council, or cabinet. He rose to fame for accurately predicting the peak and crash of China’s stock market in 2015.