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China's 'millennium babies' encounter kindergarten queues
( 2003-08-06 17:25) (Agencies)

When 33-year-old Zhou Hao in Hangzhou city of China's eastern Zhejiang Province rejoiced at the birth of his baby girl three years ago, he did not expect the simple task of getting the child into kindergarten to be such an ordeal.

So far, the little girl has been turned away by several kindergartens in her area because they are already full.

According to an official with a nearby kindergarten, which used to cater to all children in the area, this year's 270 applicants was in sharp comparison with last year's 180, and most of the kids were millennium babies like little Zhou.

A similar rush took place in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, where parents are striving to get their kids into kindergartens before the limited quotas fill up.

In the belief that babies born on the turn of the century, which coincided with the Chinese "Year of Dragon", will be blessed, many young couples chose to have babies in the year 2000.

In Hangzhou, some 63,200 babies were born in the year, nearly 10,000 more than in 2001. In nearby Wenzhou city, the number of newborns in 2000 was 1,3726 more than the previous year.

While in Harbin, 61,622 babies were born during 2000, compared with 58,724 the previous year.

Experts warned even then that the baby boom may bring a series of ripple effects, and the current difficulties enrolling millennium babies at kindergartens is the first to arise.

Problems expected to accompany the children throughout their lives include school and college entry and finding employment as adults.

Experts also predict that these millennium babies may even create another baby boom when they grow up and get married.

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