03/03/2008, 00.00
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Beijing between admissions and denials on its one-child policy

As the People’s Political Consultive Confererence gets ready to meet, contradictory statements over the one-child policy are heard. For experts it is proofs of internal party divisions.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China is not going to change its one-child policy, said yesterday Wu Jianmin, spokesman for the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), thus contradicting statements made earlier by others. Deputy Minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission Zhao Baige had in fact told reporters that studies were underway to look into possible changes to the policy introduced in the 1970s which allows couples to have only one child (two in the countryside).

"Minority groups already have two children, even three, and in the cities like Shanghai and Beijing, a lot of only children are already released (to have two),” Zhao said, adding that the aging population was now becoming a problem, especially since the elderly can no longer rely on a large family for support. Surveys indicate that 60 per cent of those under 30 want to have only two children.

But the Commission denied reports that it intends to change the policy and Wu reiterated that for China “there was no other choice” but maintain the current policy, reiterating that the country could not afford any major demographic increase given its scarce resources.

Experts observe though that the controversy confirms that the policy has come under fire from some quarters within the Communist Party. Some have argued that the policy has negatively impacted the country’s economic and social development

Last year 29 CPPCC delegates drafted a proposal calling for an end to the policy since said it has led to social problems and personality flaws in the mainland's young people. Others have argued that a low birth rate will slow economic growth.

This said the policy has still allowed about 40 per cent of couples in the country to have two or more children.

But it has also been used to “justify” forced abortion and economic sanctions against “transgressors” as well as selective female abortions in a society where families still prefer boys.

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