Ctrip, China’s largest online travel company and the second largest in the world by market value, attended the 48th World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. Ctrip is the only Chinese online travel industry representative invited to the annual Forum. James Liang, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Ctrip, spoke about the relationship between demographics and innovation and the impact on a sustainable future.

The theme at this year’s forum “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” makes a case for renewed commitment to international collaboration in light of WEF’s recent Global Risks Report 2018 revealing that 59% of nearly 1,000 global experts and policymakers believe that risks will increase this year. Experts warned current economic growth may mask existing challenges facing global economy and the financial system in the long run. Population growth and labor force is one such concern. At one of the Forum’s panel “China: Open up for Prosperity,” James Liang discussed China’s market situation, its potentials as well as the relationship between demographics, innovation and growth. “China’s huge market puts it in an advantageous position. This is great news for sustain economic growth and the development of e-commerce,” said James Liang.

In his latest book “The Demographics of Innovation: Why demographics is a key to the innovation race?”, James Liang highlighted the impact that an aging population can have on innovation and entrepreneurship. China’srapid development since the country’s reform and opening reflects the advantages that a large workforce has on entrepreneurship, innovation and progress. An aging labor force will hinder economic growth. In his book, he cited examples of countries with low fertility rates and an aging population can create challenges to that country’s social and economic development.

China’s comprehensive two-child policy has been implemented since the New Year of 2016. 2016 saw 1.31 million more births than 2015. However, such numbers are still lower than the periods in the mid-1960s, early- 1970s and late-1980s. “One reason for low birth rate is due to rising costs. Financial support will help to reduce such pressure and encourage more births,” said James Liang. Fertility needs to be encouraged. If China’s population drop by 300,000 to 800,000 people annually then this will not be good news for sustainable growth and development.

At the panel “Growing Responsibility: China facilitates the future of the world”, James Liang is positive that Chinawill become a high-income country in the next 10 to 20 years. “Such growth depends on human resources, talent pool and entrepreneurship. China has benefited hugely from her labor force. We need to ensure that this continues.”