Calendar influences Beijing's birth rate
Beijing expects to see the arrival of 10,000 more babies this year, the Year of the Monkey in the Chinese lunar calendar, which is roughly parallel to the Gregorian calendar, over last year, the Year of the Sheep.
The amount of newborns in the capital in 2004 will reach 70,000, experts predict.
It is believed that one reason for this is the Year of the Monkey is considered lucky, much more so than the Year of the Sheep, which is said heralds bad luck.
By the end of last month at the Beijing Gynecology and Obstetrics Hospital, nearly 7,700 babies had been delivered, more than the average for a whole year, local media reported.
And another 2,000 mothers are expected to give birth at the hospital by the end of the year, sources said.
"I did a dozen Caesarean sections in one night," a tired obstetrician was quoted as saying.
The hospital has increased the amount of ward beds from 187 to 203.
New mothers are also encouraged to spend as little time in hospital as possible.
At the Haidian District Health Centre for Women and Children in Beijing, 20 administrative offices, including the office of the centre's director, have been turned into wards to meet the demand.
"It is traditionally believed that children born in the Year of the Sheep will have bad luck in the future," a father-to-be surnamed Liu said.
"Next year is the Year of the Chicken, which is also not so good a year as some superstitious Chinese believe. So I chose to father a baby this year to offer him or her the best possible future."
The outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) last year also affected birth rates.
Although the lunar calendar is believed to be a factor in this year's baby boom, Yu Xiaoxi, a new mother in Beijing who gave birth to her son last month, said it is not the reason why she chose to have a child this year.
A population expert in Beijing yesterday told China Daily that among the 70,000 babies born this year, 20,000 are expected to be children of people without permanent residence in the capital city.
"The figure of 20,000 is double the average of recent years. In some years, this figure has been as low as 5,000," he said.
The expert explained that it is the liberal policies adopted by the Beijing municipal government in encouraging more people working in Beijing to have children here.