More China provinces easing one-child policy

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: Feb 16, 2014 01:00 IST

Zhou Jun and her husband He Shaodong would currently be among the more recognisable couples in the city of Hefei, the capital of east China’s Anhui province.

The young couple’s sudden shot to fame came after their smiling photo was published in the widely circulated People’s Daily newspaper, handling documents to register their second child. Besides being a genuinely happy moment for the couple, it’s also a good opportunity for the authorities to give a positive spin to the change in a policy considered controversial at the least.

The adjustment in China’s one-child policy was announced in November; China's top legislature allowed couples to have two children if either parent was an only child.

For China, it was a major departure from the one-child policy that was put in place in the late 1970s to prevent the country’s population from spiraling out of control.

On Friday, Tianjin municipality relaxed the one-child policy, the country's fourth city to do so, following east China's Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Anhui provinces.

“Provincial-level governments in Beijing, Guangxi, Hubei and Jiangsu have announced their intentions to relax the policy in March. Others, including Hunan, Qinghai and Shanghai, promised changes in the first half of the year,” official news agency Xinhua reported.

The changed policy has been more than welcomed with many urban couples, according to state media, who are ready to opt for a second child.

In a survey released by the China Population Welfare Foundation, 71.4 percent of people with a monthly income of more than 20,000 Yuan (around Rs 2 lakh) would like a second child.

The change in policy comes against a backdrop of declining birth rates and changing demographics in China, including a reduction in the working population.

“The birth rate is relatively low has shown signs of falling further. It has dropped to between 1.5 and 1.6 since the 1990s, which means each Chinese woman of child-bearing age has given birth to 1.5 to 1.6 children on average,” Li Bin, director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission last December, was quoted by the state media as having said.

Zhang Lijuan, director of the Tianjing municipality's family planning commission predicts there will be between 10,000 and 20,000 more newborns annually in the following three years.

Clearly, by late this year, in many cities of China couples like Zhou and He will not make the news anymore.

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