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Official approval for city’s one-child policy changes

2014-02-11 13:33 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Wang Fan

Shanghai is among nine provinces and municipalities to have completed work on an amended one-child policy that will allow more couples to have a second child.

The amendments have been accepted by the National Health and Family Planning Commission and the new policy, allowing couples with one spouse from a one-child family to have second child, is likely to be adopted soon in the nine areas, a commission official said yesterday.

Three provinces — Jiangxi, Anhui and Zhejiang — have already put the new policy, announced by the government in November, into action.

Yao Hongwen, a commission spokesman, said all regions had to report their plans to the national health authority before launch.

"We agreed the plans handed by the nine regions, and have told them to perfect the grassroots family planning service networks, enhance birth population monitoring and improve public services in line with the new policy," Yao said.

"Steadily promoting the revised population policy is a key task of family planning in 2014," he told a press conference.

Officials from Shanghai People's Congress said the amended policy will be passed at the first session of the Standing Committee of Shanghai People's Congress, due to be held before the end of March. The process will be fast, as there will be a single discussion and vote. Usually, a new law is discussed and amended several times.

Before the revised policy, couples could have a second child only where both spouses were from one-child family or where the first child had a non-inherited disability.

In some rural areas, couples could have a second child if their first is a girl.

In Shanghai, there will be around 300,000 couples eligible to have a second child under the new policy.

A survey has found that up to 70 percent of them want a second child.

Last year, hospitals in the city increased the number of beds in anticipation of the expected increase in births.

After the law is passed, couples wanting to have a second child will take their documents to the local family planning authority for approval.

The relaxation of the one-child policy comes at a time when China's birth rate remains relatively low and shows a tendency to decline further.

It has dropped to between 1.5 and 1.6 since the 1990s, meaning that Chinese women of child-bearing age would each give birth to 1.5 to 1.6 children on average.

China's working population dropped by 3.45 million in 2012, and is estimated to reduce by 8 million every year after 2023.

The number of people who are aged 60 and over will reach 400 million and account for a quarter of the nation's total population in the early 2030s, up from a seventh at present.

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