China may relax one-child policy this year

Beijing: China plans to relax its controversial one-child policy this year to allow all couples to have a second child as the world’s most populous nation’s earlier move to permit couples from one child families to have a second child drew a limited response, state media reported.
An anonymous researcher, who reportedly participated in a National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) survey, told China Business News that the second-child policy can be applied “as early as the end of 2015 if everything goes well.”

China is eager to reform its decades old one-child policy in view of the rapidly ageing population, to be around 200 million, raising concerns about rapid decline of work force.

China was quick to play down claims the two-child policy would be in place by the end of the year.

Lu Jiehua, a professor of demographics at Peking University, told state-run Global Times that the NHFPC is likely to implement the revised policy in the near future but said, “it’s unlikely that the policy could be fully implemented in 2015… probably next year, or at the beginning of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan.”

Twenty-nine provinces and municipalities have relaxed the one-child policy to allow couples to have a second baby if either parent is from a single-child family. China’s one-child policy does not apply to ethnic minority groups, many of whom can have two to three children in a family.

The full implementation of the second-child policy is “urgent” as it is expected to ease the pressure on an aging society, experts said.

“Relaxing the current policy meets public expectations,” Mu Guangzong, a professor at Peking University’s Institute of Population Research, told the Global Times.

“The country needs to maintain a moderate fertility rate for a healthy and sustainable development, as the present fertility rate is low,” he said.

China, which has a population of 1.3 billion, suffered a third consecutive annual drop in its workforce in 2014, 3.7 million less than the previous year, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics in January.

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