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Policy comes of age as population hits 1.3 billion
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-06 08:40

The population of the Chinese mainland hit the 1.3 billion mark today, according to the National Bureau of Statistics calculations.

Medical staffers hold a newly-born baby boy at a hospital in Beijing today. The lucky baby counted China's 1.3 billionth citizen. [Xinhua]

The magnitude of the population has implications not only for China but the world as a whole.

The nation's population policy over the past 25 years has contributed to balanced development, delaying the date of the landmark figure by four years.

And had it not been for the policy, the world's population would have topped 6 billion shortly after the turn of the century.

Experts say without government intervention, China's population would today top 1.5 billion.

Population growth squeezes resources, which are limited. This not only concerns China, but the entire world.

To tackle the issue, the 1994 Cairo international conference on population put forward the idea of implementing policies to strike a balance between the growth of the world population and social, economic, resource and environmental development.

China's family planning policy is in line with the global consensus and the interests of the world.

China saw its populace rise dramatically in the 1960s and 1970s. From 1964 to 1974, its number of citizens increased by a staggering 300 million.

But there were problems, as its scant social and economic development could not cope with the volume of people.

If not properly handled, the exploding population would have compromised the well-being of several future generations.

Admittedly, the family planning policy has gone awry in some places during its 25-year history. But the policy should continue to be endorsed.

China has taken unremitting measures to standardize the implementation of the policy.

As part of the process, the rights of women are now better respected. They have more choices when it comes to contraception methods and are enjoying better health and birth consultation services.

The policy's focus has moved from looking at numbers to looking out for the well-being of the people themselves, as advocated during the Cairo meeting.

As a result, its popularity among the public is increasing.

The growing popularity also lies in its openness to adapting to special and new circumstances.

The policy does not apply to all. Right from the start, Tibetans and ethnic minority groups with a population of less than 10 million are not bound to the family planning policy.

As China's population structure changes, the State has been fine tuning its family planning policy and making it more flexible.

The central government is now launching a pilot programme in rural areas that grant each parent over 60 who has one child or two girls 50 yuan (US$6) per month.

The money is to alleviate the need for many children, as rural residents tend to have more children so they can be supported during old age.

Some cities have also started allowing people to have a second child, under certain circumstances, to offset the pressure that comes with an ageing society.

All this shows the expertise of policy-makers to strike a balance between population growth, human needs and China's long-term social development. 

Maggie Q
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