Thursday, November 09, 2006

How Could It Be Otherwise?

1-child policy stems Chinese population
China's population of 1.3 billion people would be 400 million higher if not for the government's policy of limiting most families to one child, state media reported Thursday.

The "one-child" policy has slowed population growth and contributed positively to the country's socio-economic development, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing a family planning official.

But Zhang Weiqing, the minister in charge of the State Population and Family Planning Commission, said China needed to address the problems of an imbalanced sex ratio and an aging population, the agency reported.

The communist government has limited most urban couples to one child and rural couples to two since the 1970s to try to restrain the growth of China's population and conserve scarce resources.

Critics say the policy has led to forced abortions, sterilizations and a dangerously imbalanced sex ratio due to a traditional preference for male heirs, which has prompted countless families to abort female fetuses in hopes of getting boys.

Government statistics show that 117 boys are born for every 100 girls in China, well above the average for industrialized countries of between 104 and 107 boys for every 100 girls.

Experts have said the gender imbalance resulting from sex-selective abortions and other practices could have dangerous social consequences due to anticipated shortages of marriageable young women.

There are also concerns about China's aging population, which now exceeds 143 million, Xinhua said. The growing number of elderly will tax China's limited social safety net, especially in rural areas where the bulk of China's population live.

Zhang, who was speaking at an international workshop on population management, also said China would be willing to provide "population management training and contraceptive supplies" to developing countries, the report said.


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