Pol­icy con­ti­nu­ity

Leg­is­la­tor urges cau­tion as reg­u­la­tion ex­pected to be eased na­tion­wide in 2014

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGEN­CIES

Law­mak­ers high­light the im­por­tance of con­tin­u­ing fam­ily plan­ning when dis­cussing a bill on eas­ing the one-child pol­icy.

Law­mak­ers stressed the im­por­tance of con­tin­u­ing to ob­serve fam­ily plan­ning prac­tices on Tues­day dur­ing dis­cus­sions on a bill that would ease the one-child pol­icy.

Mem­bers of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress held panel dis­cus­sions on a bill that will ease China’s decades­long one-child pol­icy and al­low cou­ples to have two chil­dren if ei­ther par­ent is an only child.

The bill was sub­mit­ted by the State Coun­cil to the leg­is­la­ture’s bi-monthly ses­sion on Mon­day. The NPC is ex­pected to ap­prove it when its ses­sion ends on Satur­day.

Yang Wen­zhuang, a Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion of­fi­cial, said the pol­icy change is ex­pected to take ef­fect in some ar­eas of China in the first quar­ter of 2014.

Au­thor­i­ties were in the process of cal­cu­lat­ing the num­ber of el­i­gi­ble cou­ples, Yang said.

Chi Wanchun, an NPC Stand­ing Com­mit­tee mem­ber, said at the panel dis­cus­sion that eas­ing the one-child pol­icy does not mean China will aban­don fam­ily plan­ning.

“Rather, it is also a mea­sure for fam­ily plan­ning,” Chi said.

It is right to ad­just the fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy as cir­cum­stances change, but it is equally im­por­tant to strictly im­ple­ment fam­ily plan­ning poli­cies so as to en­sure sus­tain­able pop­u­la­tion growth, Chi said.

“China still has a large pop­u­la­tion. This has not changed. Many of our eco­nomic and so­cial prob­lems are rooted in this re­al­ity,” said Jiang Fan, an NPC deputy and mem­ber of the NPC Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral Af­fairs Com­mit­tee. “We can­not risk let­ting the pop­u­la­tion

China still has a large pop­u­la­tion. This has not changed. Many of our eco­nomic and so­cial prob­lems are rooted in this re­al­ity. We can­not risk let­ting the pop­u­la­tion grow out of con­trol.” JIANG FAN NPC DEPUTY

grow out of con­trol.”

China, with nearly 1.4 bil­lion peo­ple, is the world’s most pop­u­lous coun­try. The govern­ment says the pol­icy of lim­it­ing fam­i­lies to one child, which cov­ers 63 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, has averted 400 mil­lion births since 1980.

Cur­rently, the pol­icy per­mits cou­ples to have two chil­dren if both par­ents are the only chil­dren in their fam­i­lies. In most ru­ral ar­eas, fam­i­lies can ap­ply to have a sec­ond child if their first-born is a daugh­ter. These are two of sev­eral ex­cep­tions to the rule.

While they said fam­ily plan­ning is an es­sen­tial State strat­egy, law­mak­ers agreed with the State Coun­cil that the pol­icy should be ad­justed as the na­tional birth rate steadily de­clines and de­mo­graph­ics change.

When brief­ing law­mak­ers about the bill on Mon­day, Li Bin, min­is­ter of the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, warned that if the cur­rent fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy per­sists, the birth rate will con­tinue to fall and lead to a sharp drop in the to­tal pop­u­la­tion af­ter reach­ing a peak.

The bill was de­signed with the cal­cu­la­tion that births will rise but not at a dra­matic pace.

Sun Bin, an NPC deputy and farmer from Hei­longjiang prov­ince, agreed with the State Coun­cil’s as­sess­ment.

“Even in my vil­lage, peo­ple have changed their ideas about par­ent­ing. Many pre­fer hav­ing fewer chil­dren and giv­ing them bet­ter lives and ed­u­ca­tions. I don’t think there will be a very fast in­crease,” Sun said.

But he said ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties have felt the pres­sure of ag­ing.

“Par­ents want their only child to go to cities and so do youths them­selves. Now only the mid­dle-aged and el­derly stay home to farm,” he said. “They are not well ed­u­cated or skill­ful with mod­ern agri­cul­ture.”

If a fam­ily has more than one child, one of them might stay at home, he said.

In the bill, the State Coun­cil sug­gested that pro­vin­cial con­gresses and their stand­ing com­mit­tees amend lo­cal fam­ily plan­ning reg­u­la­tions af­ter eval­u­at­ing lo­cal de­mo­graph­ics.

“We should tread care­fully. Ev­ery prov­ince should not rush to adopt the new pol­icy if their con­di­tions are not ready, nor should they in­ten­tion­ally de­lay it,” Jiang Fan said.

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