China may change 'one child' population policy
Published Sunday, March 2, 2008 1:31PM EST
BEIJING - China is considering changing its decades-old, one-child policy.
Officials say they don't plan to scrap family planning initiatives completely.
But they say some changes may be possible because of the effectiveness the one-child policy has had in slowing China's population growth.
Wu Jianmin, a spokesman for the People's Political Consultative Conference, says that without the policy there would be an estimated 400 million more people in China, where the population already exceeds one billion.
Under the current mandate, Beijing limits most urban couples to one child and rural couples to two to conserve scarce resources.
Critics say the policy has led to forced abortions and sterilizations. It has also led to a dangerously imbalanced sex ratio due to a traditional preference for male heirs, which has prompted countless families to abort female fetuses.
"The one-child policy was the only choice we had given the conditions when we initiated the policy,'' Wu told reporters at a news conference the day before the CPPCC convened for its annual meeting.
However, he added, "when designing a (new) policy we need to take into consideration the (new) reality.''
There are concerns about China's aging population, with those aged 60 or older expected to top 200 million by 2015 and 280 million by 2025, according to the government.
"So as things develop, there might be some changes to the policy and relevant departments are considering this,'' Wu said without giving a timeline or details on which departments would be involved.
The CPPCC, an advisory body to Parliament, includes representatives of China's main business, religious and other non-communist groups. The session will run through March 14.
Wu said the hot topics this session include macroeconomic controls, government restructuring, employment rates, consumer price stability, climate change and reform of the financial, educational and health-care systems.