China / Society

Guangzhou seeks opinions on population draft

By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2012-09-27 08:04

Guangdong's provincial capital is soliciting public opinions on a revised draft of its family planning regulation, which would make it easier for remarried couples and families with disabled children to have one more child.

According to the proposal, couples would be allowed to have another child under eight situations. For example, remarried couples in Guangzhou would be allowed to have one more child if one of the spouses has no children and if the other spouse has no more than two children from previous marriages.

Currently, the other spouse must have no more than one child from previous marriages.

The family planning policy in China restricts most urban couples to just one child, but it gives exceptions and varies in different provinces. Some couples from ethnic groups or rural areas are allowed to have more than one child.

The draft document also relaxes restrictions for families with disabled children.

Families whose "children of first birth" - instead of the current phrase "first child" - are diagnosed with non-hereditary disabilities will also be able to have one more child, according to the draft.

The draft, which was published on the website of Guangzhou's legislative office on Tuesday, encourages couples to have only one child and to adhere to the latest population and family planning policies. People can give comments and suggestions to the office's e-mail box before Oct 24.

Sources with the Guangzhou bureau of family planning denied any relaxation of the city's population policies.

"Only the central government has the right to adjust and change the country's family planning policies," said a source with the bureau on Wednesday, who wished to remain anonymous.

The city's families have an average of 2.73 people per household, compared with the mainland's average of 3.10 people, according to population data from 2010.

But the city has a registered residential population of more than 12.7 million and also a huge number of unregistered migrant workers, authorities said.

Guangzhou Party chief Wan Qingliang said in April that the city has to manage a population of 16 million.

The city's strategic development plan set a population target of about 18 million by 2020.

Wan called for effective measures and policies to help control the city's rapidly growing population in coming years, adding that its large population places huge pressure on the city's employment, education, healthcare and social security systems.

"Guangzhou faces great pressure when it comes to infrastructure construction, environmental protection, rebuilding old city centers, making overall plans for urban and rural development, and tackling heavy traffic jams because of its rapid population growth," Wan said at a forum on urban management in March last year, when the city's population was estimated at 15 million.

Yin Zhihui, an office worker in Guangzhou's Huangpu district, said that he thinks that the city's population has increased quickly because of its rapid economic growth in recent years. The 29-year-old said he would not consider having more than one child due to economic factors.

"I don't think I would be able to have more than one child. The housing prices and the costs of raising a baby are very high in Guangzhou. My wife and I have to spend most of our incomes on the mortgage," said Yin, who works for an international company.

"One child is enough, and it doesn't matter whether the baby is a boy or a girl," said Yin, who got married six months ago.

He said that he doesn't think that relaxing the policy would lead to a fast increase in population, largely because the cost of giving birth to children and raising them has increased significantly in the city.

With more than 104.3 million residents, Guangdong has surpassed Henan and Shandong provinces to become the most populous province in China. The figure is expected to reach 135 million by the end of 2015.

The province, which has 1.9 percent of China's total land area, is home to about 7.8 percent of the country's population.

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