Monday, October 16, 2006

Rural Chinese Offerred Cash Incentives to Have Fewer Children

China to pay farmers more for having fewer children
BEIJING (AFP) - China will next year introduce new financial incentives to encourage its 750 million rural residents to have fewer children.

Parents in the countryside aged over 60 will each year receive 600 yuan (76 dollars) if they have only one child, or two girls, the China Daily reported, quoting the National Population and Family Planning Commission.

The incentive equates to just under a fifth of an average farmer's net income of 3,225 yuan a year, according to government statistics for last year.

The lack of a social security system for China's farmers has often forced couples to exceed birth quotas or abandon girls so they could have a son.

Farmers depend on sons to take care of them in old age as daughters are married off.

A pilot project has been in place in 23 provinces and regions since 2002, covering 1.35 million senior citizens in rural China, the newspaper said.

Under China's so-called "one child" policy, introduced over two decades ago, couples living in Chinese cities are allowed to have just one child.

In the countryside, parents are allowed to have a second child if the first is a girl.

China, the most populous country in the world, has a population of 1.3 billion, but the government claims the number would be closer to 1.7 billion if the policy was not in place.

Although the law states only that financial measures should be used to enforce and encourage the implemenation of the policy, critics have long said gross human rights abuses have been carried out under its name.

Forced abortions and sterilizations of women by government officials, as well as abandonment and infanticide of baby girls due to traditional preferences for sons, have been widespread, according to rights groups.


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