China will maintain its family planning policy to
keep a low birth rate over the next five years, but more efforts will be made to
improve population quality and structure, a senior Chinese population official
told the Beijing-based Study Times.
"The current family planning policy must be kept basically stable, a
fundamental measure to cope with the fourth baby boom (in the next five years),"
said Zhang Weiqing, director of the National Population and Family Planning
Since the initiation of the family planning policy in the early 1970s, China
has successfully brought its rapid growing population under control during
1970-1995 and achieved a low birth level during 1995-2005, preventing over 400
But many challenges remain, said Zhang, as China will see its total
population, working-age population and aging population all reach their peaks in
the middle of this century.
The rising male-to-female ratio and the world's largest migrating population
have posed serious questions to the government's management capacity and social
To meet these challenges, China has to improve its population quality, first
by setting up a national birth defect intervention and monitoring network to
ensure that every family can give birth to healthy kids.
The government should lead society in creating a social atmosphere of "women
are equal to men", crack down on illegal pre-natal gender selection, abortion
based on sex preference and deserting baby girls, he said.
Meanwhile, the government should gradually reform its household registration
system to enable the migrant population to have access to urban services, set up
a social security net for migrant rural workers.
Rising male-to-female ratio not direct result of family planning
China's rising male-to-female ratio is not directly linked with the family
planning policy, but is largely due to the traditional concept of valuing males
over females, Zhang told the Study Times.
"The major reason for China's rising sex ratio is the entrenched concept of
'boys are better than girls'. The direct reason is the abuse of B-ultrasound
technology. Does the imbalance have something to do with family planning? Yes,
but there is no direct connection," said Zhang.
The Republic of Korea, India and China's Taiwan all have the problem of a
rising sex ratio, but they do not have strict birth control policies. Chinese
cities also practice a stricter family planning policy than rural areas, but do
not see the sex ratio rising, he said.
"Therefore, adjusting the family planning policy is not a fundamental
solution to dealing with a rising sex ratio," he said.
Experts warned that China has seen 117 boys born for every 100 girls, far
beyond the normal ratio of 100 females to 104-107 males.
"To keep the current low birth rate stable, the countryside is the focus that
requires hard efforts," said Zhang, urging the further improvement of policies
favorable to families practicing family planning as part of the campaign for
building a new socialist countryside.
Family planning policy to see minor changes in future
China's current family planning policy will remain fundamentally the same
although there will be minor changes according to future needs.
Zhang said the reform of the family planning policy should follow the
principle of "remaining stable overall and carrying out minor changes in line
with local conditions" to prevent population growth from bouncing back by a
The current 1.8 gross fertility rate is a proper level for China's population
growth, he said, stressing that the population policy, if incorrect, would have
an irreversible impact on socioeconomic development.
China's family planning policy is not a 'one-child' policy, he said, adding
that an urban couple, if both husband and wife are the only child of their
families, can give birth to a second child and farmers in many provinces are
allowed to have one more if their first child is a girl.
Rural families in Yunnan, Qinghai, and Hainan provinces, and the Ningxia and
Xinjiang autonomous regions can have two children. And there is no limitation
whatsoever to rural families in Tibet, he said.
China started to practice a family planning policy in the early 1970s and has
prevented over 400 million births.