A report recently released by Northwest China's Shaanxi Province has, for the first time by a provincial government, called for an end to the family planning policy, a sign that the policy is closer to being scrapped.
The policy should be abolished at the right time, and measures that encourage more births, including subsidies, should be set up to convince more mothers to give birth and optimize the country's demographics, according to a demographics report released in June by the Shaanxi Provincial Bureau of Statistics.
"The fact that provincial documents raising the question shows that the issue is not as sensitive," Huang Wenzheng, a demographics expert, told the Global Times on Sunday, adding it was only the central government which could discuss the policy in the past.
Zhou Tianyong, vice dean of the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China's Institute of International Strategic Studies, contributed an article to a magazine in June under the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, calling for an end to the family planning policy, news website thepaper.cn reported on Saturday.
Zhou said China's birth rate is sliding faster, which is leading to an older population. "China's younger population will further shrink by 30 million in the next five years… The pension system will face greater pressure as the country's economic growth further slows down," he said.
That is why the family planning policy should be scrapped to reverse the trend, Zhou said.
The government and public support the removal of birth restrictions, Huang said, adding this shows China is one step closer to getting rid of the family planning policy.
Many places in China are already providing incentives to encourage more births. Thirty regions have extended paid maternity leaves to up to a year since 2017. Some cities also give subsidies to families of four.
"These are signs that the government has realized the problem and is moving in the right direction," Huang said.