Ren’s core message is greater state support for people to have children.

The fund should be rolled out as soon as possible to catch the fertility window of those born between 1975 to 1985, as younger generations are much less likely to even get married, let alone have kids, his memo said. China also needs a better child care system, allow families to decide the number of children they want to have, and improve the protection of women’s employment rights while giving companies birth-related tax benefits, it adds.

Is Ren Zeping “grandstanding”?

As one of China’s highest-paid and most well-known economists, Ren’s post has drawn a lot of attention and stirred heated discussion on the Chinese internet, where many people said the proposal goes against basic economic principles and would push up inflation.

In response, Ren today posted on Weibo, saying that the additional 2 trillion yuan needs to be printed every year, and that it is calculated based on the 2% to 3% fertility-related spending as a percentage of rich countriesGDP. Ren assumes China’s GDP has reached 110 trillion yuan ($17 trillion). (China has yet to release its 2021 GDP figure but there are estimates of it exceeding 110 trillion yuan during the period.)

As to why the 2 trillion yuan needs to be printed instead of coming from existing China’s budget, Ren said it is because coronavirus has drained everyone’s finances: the government, families, and corporates. “Hence, we need to print money to have babies.”

One of the harshest criticisms came from an opinion piece (Chinese) published on state media outlet The Paper, which slams Ren as an “internet celebrity economist” who is “trying to get attention.” The piece is titled “Let there be less Ren Zeping-style grandstanding.”

Already platforms are taking steps to play down Ren’s views. Ren was banned on Wednesday from posting on Weibo, which said he violated “relevant laws and regulations” but did not explain what Ren’s specific violations were. Ren’s posts about the proposal and his clarifications about it also cannot be found on his Weibo account, but it is unclear whether they have been deleted or hidden by Ren or the platform.

Update, Jan. 13: The story was updated to add that Ren was suspended from posting on Weibo.

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