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China province cools hopes of 'one-child' policy easing

10 october 2011, 13:17
0
©REUTERS/David Gray
©REUTERS/David Gray
An official from China's most populous province said there would be no "major" change to population control measures, AFP reports citing Chinese media, cooling expectations it may ease the one-child policy.

Guangdong in southern China asked Beijing in July for permission to modify the policy and allow couples where just one parent is an only child to have a second baby, as concerns grew over gender imbalances and an ageing population.

But Zhang Feng, director of the provincial population and family planning commission, said in an interview with the Nanfang Daily that there would be "no major adjustments to the family planning policy within five years."

It was unclear whether this meant the province had dropped its earlier plans altogether or whether Beijing had refused to grant Guangdong permission. The commission was not immediately available for comment when contacted by AFP.

But Zhang was quoted as saying that a low birth rate had to be maintained in the province's current five-year economic plan, which started this year and runs until 2015.

China's one-child policy was introduced in 1979 to curb population growth in the nation of more than 1.3 billion people, but has become increasingly unpopular as the country's population ages.

Critics blame the policy for creating gender imbalances -- sex-specific abortions are common and female infanticide and the abandoning of baby girls have also been reported.

The policy also puts huge pressure on only children to support their parents and two sets of grandparents.

Policy violations usually result in hefty fines and a cut back in social services, although some ethnic minorities and farmers whose first child is a girl are excluded from the restriction.

In some areas, couples where both parents are only children are already allowed to have a second baby.

Guangdong is China's most populous province, with 104 million residents, up from 86 million in 2004.

Zhang was quoted as saying in the Sunday report that the province planned to keep the population within the 111 million range by 2015.

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