Guangdong drops plan to end one-child policy

Updated: 2011-10-10 07:34

By Li Wenfang (China Daily)

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GUANGZHOU - Guangdong provincial authorities have ruled out any significant change in the province's family planning policy in the next five years, in contrast to their earlier application for allowing qualified local couples to have two children.

A document on family planning in Guangdong's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), which will be issued soon, states that a low birth rate is to be maintained, said Zhang Feng, director of the provincial population and family planning commission, in Nanfang Daily on Sunday.

In July, Zhang said the provincial authorities had applied to the central government and were waiting for approval to lead the country in relaxing the family planning policy.

If the application was approved, couples in which either the husband or wife is an only child would be allowed to have a second child, he said in July.

According to Zhang then, the province had room to relax the one-child policy, which has been in place for more than three decades, because such a move would not lead to a fast increase in population, largely due to the increased costs of giving birth to and raising children.

Guangdong's birth rate has remained low for more than 10 years, with women living in the province having given birth to 1.7 children on average over the past decade.

Now China's most populous province and its largest provincial-level economy, Guangdong has 104.3 million permanent residents, according to the recent national census. It has set a target of keeping the population within 111 million by 2015, Zhang said.

The family planning policy has relieved the province of an extra 35 million people, greatly easing the pressure on employment, transport, education, resources and the environment, Zhang said in the Sunday report.

Apart from the huge population, Guangdong authorities have also had to address the ageing of the population, the high boy-to-girl ratio in infants and the relatively low skill level of laborers, Zhang said.

As a developing country with a population of more than 1.3 billion, China faces more complex issues in reproducing people than in developing materials, Li Bin, director of the national population and family planning commission, said recently.

Li said the population issue is not as simple as just relaxing the family planning policy, but calls for a scientific and prudent approach.

Although human reproduction in China is now marked by a low birth rate, a low death rate and low growth after three decades of the family planning policy, the population is still expected to reach 1.39 billion by 2015.

The country also needs to address the recently increasing incidence of birth defects, the relatively high boy-to-girl ratio in infants, the working-age population reaching a peak in the next five years, the early effects of an ageing population and the weakened traditional role of families.

With the goal of promoting the long-term balanced development of its population, China should strengthen the current family planning policy, maintain a low birth rate and improve the overall quality of the population, Li said.