Changing family planning policy not solution, says official Beijing will make only minor changes to the family planning policy and it must remain stable for the next five years, said Zhang Weiqing, director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission. 'The current family planning policy must be kept basically stable - a fundamental measure to cope with [China's] fourth baby boom [in the next five years],' Mr Zhang told the Beijing-based Study Times. He denied that the policy was to blame for the country's growing gender imbalance, which he said stemmed from a deep-rooted preference for sons. 'The main reason for China's rising gender imbalance is the entrenched concept that 'boys are better than girls',' he said and cited the abuse of ultrasound technology. 'Does the imbalance have something to do with family planning? Yes, but there is no direct connection [to the policy].' Experts say 117 boys are born for every 100 girls on the mainland, far exceeding the normal ratio of 100 females to 104-107 males. South Korea, India and Taiwan also had growing gender imbalances, but did not have birth control policies, he said. Throughout the mainland, cities enforced stricter family planning policies than in rural areas, but did not have different sex ratios. 'Therefore, adjusting the family planning policy would not be a fundamental solution to dealing with a rising gender imbalance,' Mr Zhang said. Beijing's priority was to improve the quality of the population and make greater efforts to manage the country's floating population. These goals meant authorities had no option but to maintain the family planning policy. 'China will see its total population, working-age population and ageing population all reach their peaks in the middle of this century,' he said, adding the policy had kept population growth under control. He said 400 million births had been prevented since the mainland started trying to control its population growth in the early 1970s. He said the policy could not be summarised as a 'one-child policy', however, as there were many exceptions to the one-child rule - urban couples could have a second child if both husband and wife came from one-child families and rural couples in many provinces were allowed to have one more if their first child was a girl. Also, rural couples in Yunnan, Qinghai and Hainan provinces, and the Ningxia and Xinjiang regions, could have two children, while there were no limits at all on the size of Tibetan families. Mr Zhang said Beijing's most difficult challenge was changing the perception that boys were better than girls and the government had to take the lead in hammering home the message. The government ought to also gradually reform its household registration system to give migrant workers access to urban services and social security.