Chinese people say they don't care that India is taking over as the world's most populous country: 'No one even wants 1st place'

Chinese people say they don't care that India is taking over as the world's most populous country: 'No one even wants 1st place'

Chinese social media users this week dismissed and derided India's expected mid-2023 rise to become the world's most populous nation.

Estimates published on Wednesday by the United Nation's Population Fund say India's population will hit 1.428 billion this year, while China's is set to drop to 1.425 billion people.It's a widely predicted change, considering China's birthrate has slipped to record lows, while India boasts a 75% working-age population. India's population boom also marks a shift in China's long-held identity of bursting growth — China has been the world's most populous country for decades. But people on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, say the title is inconsequential, and some are even happy to see it go.

"No one even wants first place for this," one user wrote in a top comment as news broke of the UN estimates last week. "Finally, letting go of this number one title," another person commented in the same thread. "Having the largest population also means having the most people you need to serve, the most responsibilities," wrote another user. A tightening housing market, an economy battered by COVID-19, and the burden of hustle culture in China have led many of its young people to decide it's too expensive to raise children or even get married.

China's foreign ministry also tried to downplay the impact of the population shift.

"When assessing a country's demographic dividend, we need to look at not just the size but also the quality of its population," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday. Wang told reporters that China is more concerned with "talent resource" than raw population statistics. On the heavily moderated Weibo platform, where nationalist sentiments are often allowed to spread freely, some people followed Wang's lead and compared wealth standards in India and China.

"Take a look, guys, not so much public housing, not that many mortgages, not so many vacations," wrote one user. "Let's see how long they can keep giving birth."

While analysts estimate that India is set to eliminate extreme poverty by 2024, China has since 2021 boasted of a "complete victory" over rural poverty — a hallmark goal of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. China's GDP per capita was $12,556 in 2021, while India's was $2,256 in the same year, according to the World Bank's latest estimates. But India is also expected to claim another world number-one title this year — the fastest-growing major economy on Earth. Already the world's fifth-largest economy, it's expected to grow 6% when the fiscal year ends in March 2024, the country's Reserve Bank said. Relations between China and India have also been marred by repeated border clashes between their troops. At least 20 soldiers were reported to have been killed in border skirmishes.