For years, I’ve been writing columns predicting China’s decline. This week, the decline became undeniable. The road downhill will not be smooth — not for it or for us.

The news is that the death rate in China outnumbered the birthrate for the first time in more than 60 years. Last time, it was famine caused by Mao Zedong’s economic policies that led to an estimated 36 million deaths from starvation. Now, it’s young Chinese couples who, like their peers in much of the developed world, don’t want children.

Bret L. Stephens has been an opinion columnist with The New York Times since April 2017. He won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary at The Wall Street Journal in 2013 and was previously editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post.