China’s population may already be shrinking, with data so far this year showing a continued drop in the number of births, an independent Chinese demographer has predicted.

There will be between 9.5 million to 10.5 million newborn babies this year, independent demographer He Yafu wrote on his personal social media account Thursday. "If the number of newborns is near the lower limit of the prediction, that means the population will register negative growth,” as there’s been an average of about 10 million deaths a year recently, He wrote.

China’s government has effectively done away with restrictions on the number of children a couple can have and has promised to boost support for families, including making it cheaper to raise a child. Even so, the number of newborns may decline again this year from 12 million in 2020, Yu Xuejun, deputy head of the National Health Commission, said in July.