Confusion reigned yesterday over the possibility of Beijing changing the one-child policy when a family planning official's reported comments were quickly contradicted by the agency for which he works. The Beijing News quoted Peng Yuhua, vice-director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Population and Family Planning, in a report yesterday as saying the commission was assessing the possibility of allowing couples to have a second child if one of the spouses was a single child. The report also said the commission was considering abolishing the four-year waiting period between the first and second births currently required of couples eligible to have a second child. Late in the afternoon, Xinhua released a report quoting an unnamed cadre from the same commission as saying that The Beijing News' article was 'inaccurate' and that the relevant reporter had apologised to Peng. 'Birth-planning is a fundamental policy,' said an unnamed source interviewed by Xinhua. 'The birth-planning policy requires stability and continuity. I hope that everyone will continue ... to support the population and family planning department to do well in its work.' Under current regulations, couples under various circumstances are exempted from the one-child policy and entitled to have more than one child. Examples include if both were single children, or hold doctorates, or are from an ethnic minority group, or disabled, or rural residents whose first child was a girl. The circumstances differ between provinces. While 30 provinces, regions and municipalities are already implementing the 'both-parents-are-single-child' exception, only 11 provinces are implementing a less restricted version of the 'one-parent-is-a-single-child' exception - if one spouse of a rural couple is a single child, they may have two children. An expert close to the National Population and Family Planning Commission, who refused to be named, said the topic was still too sensitive and that it was unlikely the 'one-parent-is-a-single-child' condition would be applied to urban areas anytime soon. But the exemption might be expanded to rural couples in other provinces. Four provinces - Guangdong, Jiangxi , Shanxi and Hubei - scrapped the four-year waiting period between two births last year. But contrary to previous reports, Shanghai will not follow suit immediately, according to an article on China Net yesterday. Calls for the one-child policy to be scrapped or modified have been growing as problems such as an ageing population and a gender imbalance have intensified. In 2005 the male-female ratio was 119 boys for every 100 girls. In some areas it was as high as 130 to 100. By 2020, 24 million men of marrying age could find themselves without spouses, a study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences found.