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New policy: Couples with fewer children get awards
Updated: 2004-08-03 14:14

In implementing its family planning policy, China is trying to shift from punishing those who give more births than what the state allows, a practice of more than 30 years, to encouraging those who have fewer children, according to China Youth Daily reports.

Beginning from this year, rural families who have only one child or two girls will receive award and support from government, reported Tuesday's People's Daily.

Zhao Shuqi, a 67-year-old villager from northeast China's Qiqihar City, and his wife Huang Yuewen were among first beneficiaries of the policy shift, when they received on August 1 a certificate of honor and a bankbook from Xu Jialu, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC). Thirty years ago, the couple responded to the state call of family planning by having only one girl.

Qiqihar is the only pilot city of the new policy in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. After strict examination, a total of 5,084 farmers in the city were found qualified for the governmental award and support, which come in the form of an annual subsidy no less than 600 yuan (US$73) for each of them as long as they live. The encouragement is aimed at helping to block the vicious circle of "the poorer, the more births; the more births, the poorer" in rural areas, local officials in charge of population control said.

The pilot work will be launched this year in five provinces and municipality in west China (Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu, Qinghai and Chongqing), nine cities in nine central provinces (Hebei, Shanxi, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Jiangxi, Anhui, Henan, Hunan, and Hubei) as well as in Zunyi City, Guizhou Province. Work has been started earlier in some provinces where farmers have received award money.

The work will be spread to the whole nation after experience is gained from trial areas.

Encouragement to having fewer children is an important measure by the Chinese government to guide farmers to exercise family planning consciously and keep birth rate low, said Pan Guiyu, vice director of the State Family Planning Commission, adding that it is also a long-term and stable policy to fundamentally solve the problem of rural population growth and to promote coordinated development between population and social, economic progress, as well as a big breakthrough in the state's establishing of a mechanism of guiding interests in family planning and social security system.

The policy stipulates that those who receive the award fund must meet all the following conditions--the receiver and his spouse both have rural residency; they didn't break family planning regulations and policies during 1973 and 2001; they currently have one child or two girls, or currently they have no child because their child died; both of them are 60 or older.

The shift from punishing over births to encouraging fewer births marks more respect to human rights in China's population control, demographer Liu Junzhe commented.

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