One-child policy may end in five provinces
Mimi Lau and Mandy Zuo
A senior Heilongjiang official yesterday confirmed the mainland was considering letting residents in five provinces have a second child if one of the parents was an only child.
Li Jichun , deputy chairman of the Heilongjiang provincial Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said it had not been decided whether Heilongjiang would be among the five provinces taking part in the experiment, and gave no further details about the plan.
Meanwhile, a deputy director of the Committee for Population, Resources and Environment of the CPPCC, Wang Yuqing , said the national population planning authorities were considering relaxing the restrictions.
Wang said a two-child policy, if put in place by 2015, would not lead to a sudden surge in population.
He said the practice among rural families, where they were allowed a second child if the first child was a girl, could be gradually extended to the cities to address an ageing population. The current policy actually applied to only about 37 per cent of Chinese families - those living in cities - and ethnic minority families were not bound by the single-child policy.
Wang's call was echoed by other Beijing-based population experts.
Ye Yanfang, another deputy to the CPPCC, said nine out of 10 experts in the field had been urging the top leaders to relax the one-child policy for some time. But one such proposal, tendered in 2007, had been rejected by population planning authorities, who said the country would still have a large labour force in the next decade.
'They are still worried that more people will drive up the unemployment rate in the future,' Ye said.
Lu Jiehua, a Beijing-based population expert, said he believed coastal cities with better-developed economies and higher populations would allow one-child families to formulate their own policies by 2015.