AS Chinese family planning officials battle against the population explosion on the mainland, experts argue that families of intellectuals should be exempted from the one child policy. They say if intellectuals had more offspring it would help upgrade the ''quality'' of the population. According to the semi-official Hongkong China News Agency, mainland experts have pointed to the adverse effects of the strict implementation of the policy. While families of intellectuals should be allowed to have a second child, they called for stricter control over the birth of the second or third child of illiterate, half-literate and handicapped people. The news agency claimed that the population of cities had dropped, with some intellectuals preferring not to have children, while the rural population was booming. ''The growth of population has been twisted in an abnormal way,'' it said. The growth of births in poor regions has accentuated the problem of poverty in those regions, it said, adding that economic development had been severely affected. The population problem has been polarised. ''While the number of the offspring of illiterate have soared, those of the intellectuals have dropped,'' it said. The report said the suggestion had received favourable response from mainland departments, which were conducting feasibility studies on the idea. Quoting experts, the news agency said the advantages for relaxing the one child policy for intellectuals were that it would help enhance the quality of the population and prepare for the grooming of more talented personnel for the country in the next century. By doing so, it would also nurture a social atmosphere under which knowledge and intellectuals were respected, it said, noting that this was conducive to the development of spiritual civilisation.