Hubei to relax its one-child regulation
Hubei has become the latest province to revise its birth-control policy since the amended national family planning law was implemented in September.
The new provincial policy has been approved by the central government and will be put in place next month.
Explaining the revisions, an official with the Hubei Family Planning Commission, said: 'Couples in which both the husband and the wife are only children will be allowed to have a second child, provided that their first child is a girl. It doesn't matter whether they live in the towns or rural villages.'
However, rural couples in which one partner is disabled will not be allowed another child, as it would be considered an added burden on the family, the provincial government said.
The official refused to comment on how many more couples would be eligible to have a second child under the new policy, but said he expected Hubei's birth rate to stay the same.
'We have always allowed couples in exceptional circumstances to have a second child. It's just that we've modified the exceptions,' he said.
In September Beijing implemented the amended Population and Family Planning Law, which set in stone the one-child policy introduced 22 years earlier. The law introduced 'social compensation fees' to cover the cost to society of an additional child plus heavy fines for parents with unapproved children. It also gave provincial governments the freedom to allow certain couples to have a second child.
A spokeswoman for the State Family Planning Commission said she had no official statistics on how many provinces had revised their birth-control policies since the new law was implemented, but insisted the country's family planning policy had not changed.
'The central government always upholds its policy, but details and exceptions can vary from one province to another,' the official said.
Beijing wants to keep the nation's population below 1.4 billion until at least 2010.