Friday, April 1, 2011

Beijing easing its one-child policy

Some couples won't be fined for having a second child The policy is also blamed for the country's skewed sex ratio, given Chinese families' preference for sons. The male-female ratio at birth is about 119 males to 100 females. BEIJING: Married couples in Beijing will be allowed to have a second child without having to pay a huge fine under new population guidelines.In a move seen as a small first step towards a gradual easing of China's strict family planning policy, couples who come from one- child families will be fined only if:

  1. The mother is under 28 years old when she has the second child;

  2. and The child is born before the older sibling turns four.

Previously, a Beijing couple flouting any one of the two conditions would have had to pay a sum amounting to 20 per cent of their annual income.Not all couples, however, will be exempted. For example, in cases where one spouse or both spouses do not come from one- child families, the couple will be discouraged from having a second child.

China's family planning policy limits urban couples to one child and rural couples to two, and officials have said there are no plans to relax the policy nationwide.The policy has been credited with curbing the country's population growth in the past 30 years. However, it has also created new problems such as gender imbalance and a rapidly growing proportion of elderly Chinese.The policy is also blamed for the country's skewed sex ratio, given Chinese families' preference for sons. The male-female ratio at birth is about 119 males to 100 females.

Of particular concern are low birth rates in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, where couples are deterred by the high cost of raising a child.Despite growing calls for China to loosen its one-child policy, the official position is that there are no plans to change it any time soon. But some people such as Professor Mu Guanzong do not think that the more relaxed guidelines go far enough.

Prof Mu, an expert in population research at Peking University, said the new rules for Beijing were an improvement but were not enough to correct China's population imbalances or raise fertility rates.Prof Mu called instead for a relaxation of the family planning policy throughout China and for every couple to be allowed to have two children.The country's current average fertility rate is between 1.4 and 1.8, but its replacement fertility rate - which is the number of children a woman needs to bear for a population to sustain itself - is 2.1, according to Prof Mu. Former university professor Yang Zhizhu, who was fired from his post last year because he and his wife had a second child and refused to pay a fine of more than 240,000 yuan (S$46,200), saw little reason to praise the latest changes.

Making couples pay huge fines for having a second child is in itself legally unjust, he told China Daily on Wednesday.Meanwhile, other cities are considering relaxing the policy.Guangzhou Daily reported early last month that the southern Chinese province of Guangdong would be seeking the central government's approval to allow couples to have a second child.

Mr Wang Yuqing, deputy director of the Committee for Population, Resources and Environment under the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said China may adjust its family planning policy in the next few years.He noted that birth rates in major Chinese cities have been falling over the years and that the number of working adults has begun to decrease since 2009. A gradual relaxation of the policy, allowing couples to have a second child, will not lead to a sudden jump in population, Mr Wang said.


Questions for thought:

1) would this rectification to the one child policy be effective?


randal said...

I just want to express some of my concerns over this change. What is often seen in other countries during rapid urbanization,the increasing unwillingness to have more children mainly due to career reasons, has not been discovered in china. Moreover, it's population stats show that its population shows no sign of slowing down. I mean, the permission to have more babies is definitely a cheerful news to the couples, but is it as cheerful to the country? There must be reasons behind the government's hesitation over this issue.

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