Bid to change fam­ily plan­ning law de­bated

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By SHAN JUAN shan­jian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

De­bate is rag­ing over a draft amend­ment to China’s pop­u­la­tion and fam­ily plan­ning law fol­low­ing the gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion to drop the one-child pol­icy.

The amend­ment en­cour­ages fam­i­lies to have two chil­dren but not more, and would re­move the right to ex­tended hol­i­days for those who get mar­ried or have chil­dren late.

If passed, it would mean that those who enjoy mar­riage and ma­ter­nity leave will have seven and 30 fewer days off, re­spec­tively.

Men who wed at age 25 or above are con­sid­ered to have mar­ried late, while the age for women is 23 and above. Reg­u­lar ma­ter­nity leave is three months.

The change would have a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect, as Chi­nese now tend to marry and have chil­dren late.

A re­cent sur­vey by the All China Women’s Fed­er­a­tion found the av­er­age age for a first mar­riage in China is 26.

The Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion said the one-child pol­icy change means there will be about 30 mil­lion more peo­ple in the la­bor force by 2050 and a 2 per­cent­age point de­cline in the ra­tio of the el­derly pop­u­la­tion.

The new fam­ily plan­ning law, pro­posed by the State Coun­cil, is ex­pected to take ef­fect on Jan 1.

The mar­riage reg­is­tra­tion of­fice in Beijing’s Chaoyang Dis­trict dealt with nearly 300 cou­ples on Wed­nes­day, com­pared with the daily av­er­age of 70 to 80, Beijing Morn­ing Post re­ported.

Many asked about the pos­si­ble ef­fects of the pol­icy change, but were given no def­i­nite an­swers, a staff mem­ber said.

Zhou Tian­hong, a mem­ber of the top leg­is­la­ture, said that given the new trend en­cour­ag­ing births, ben­e­fits such as longer mar­riage and ma­ter­nity leave should be univer­sal.

“Those with only one child should still enjoy the ben­e­fits be­cause of pol­icy con­ti­nu­ity,” he said.

Un­der

the

amend­ment, the gov­ern­ment would stop re­ward­ing those who have only one child. But those given the “one-child al­lowance” be­fore the amended law took ef­fect would con­tinue to re­ceive the gov­ern­ment sub­sidy, or about 120 yuan ($18.50) a year.

“I think those older than 40 who have only one child should con­tinue to enjoy the al­lowance”, be­cause they might not be able to have a sec­ond child, said a ne­ti­zen named earfly on Sina Weibo.

An­other ne­ti­zen named Hawthorn said the al­lowance should con­tinue to be given, as it is not a large amount, adding that “all child­bear­ing should be en­cour­aged”.

How­ever, many peo­ple said they do not care about the al­lowance.

Leg­is­la­tor Liu Zhengkui called for the gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce more fa­vor­able poli­cies to en­cour­age child­bear­ing.

“It’s ex­pen­sive to raise a child, and in­cen­tives should be given in terms of ed­u­ca­tion and health­care,” he said.

Mu Guang­zong, a de­mo­graph­ics ex­pert at Pek­ing Univer­sity, said: “Cou­ples who have more chil­dren should be given fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives. Two chil­dren is good, and three even bet­ter,” he said.

Wang Xiaodong and Cao Yin con­trib­uted to this story

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