05/31/2014, 00.00
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China, the easing of the "one child law" means over 2 million more newborns per year

They are government forecasts for 2014, the first year with a new (and softer) family planning law. New maternity wards to be built to cope with increased demand.

Beijing ( AsiaNews) - With the relaxation of the notorious family planning law - known as the "one-child law" - China can expect about 2 million more new born babies in the coming year. This is according to government sources, who say Beijing "has already ordered" the creation of new health facilities for maternity care. Zhang Shikun, an official of the Commission for the health of women and children, confirms: "Local authorities have been told to build more health facilities for women and children and add maternity beds".

According to UN figures, in 2013, almost 18.5 million children were born in China: the data is inaccurate because it only takes into account registered births, while several experts quantify hundreds of thousands of children born in rural areas, who have not been registered. In any case, the government forecasts speak of a 11% increase in births during the first year of the relaxed family policy.

From 1979 onwards, China has - often violently - implemented the policy of one child per family, to focus on the nation's economic development. As a result only ethnic groups and farmers are allowed to have a second child if the first child was a girl. Implementation of the law has often been violent, with exorbitant fines against violators, and even forced sterilization and abortions up to nine months of pregnancy. Family planning officials were often rewarded for ensuring that the law and population quotas were respected opening the door to corruption and abuse of power.

The easing of the norm was launched in December 2013.  It allows couples in which one partner is already an only child, to have two children. In any case, the new policy still remains limited even from the geographical point of view: its benefits will go only to the inhabitants of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing and those of the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Anhui, Sichuan, Guangdong and Jiangsu.


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