The Shenzhen People's Congress Standing Committee, Guangdong Province, Tuesday turned down a proposal to loosen the local family planning regulations and allow second children, while forbidding further births.
The move came after the Guangdong Provincial Population and Family Planning Commission said lawmakers dealing with family planning should be cautious as controversy still exists about the country's demographic dividend, China's status as an aging society and a lack of relevant statistics nationwide.
The provincial commission noted that the Shenzhen congress should comply with the country's basic family planning principles by sticking to the current policy, which doesn't offer room for a large-scale loosening of the rules.
"The decision disappoints me," Wang Zhenyu, a deputy director with the public decision-making research center at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times.
"The family planning policy, implemented in 1978, doesn't fit China today, where we have an aging society," Wang said, adding that one child cannot support both parents and that the country lacks a systematic social security network.
Liang Zhongtang, a former expert with the National Population and Family Planning Commission and a researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the public have reproductive rights, something the government can't limit.
"The policy continuously conflicts with public wishes, a trend that is not helpful in building a harmonious society. I'd like to see it gone," Liang said.
"It's difficult for other places to make their own attempts, after Shenzhen, as a special zone where special policies can be executed, has failed," Wang said, adding that the policy has created a group of people drenched in vested interests who don't want to lose their privileges.
When the local people's congress solicited opinions in the city, many locals hoped the government would at least allow second children, gmw.cn reported Wednesday.
However, the provincial commission argued that the decision should be made by the provincial people's congress, rather than the Shenzhen one, in this case.
An increasing number of women from the Chinese mainland are traveling to Hong Kong and foreign countries to give birth to second babies in recent years, which many think violates both the family planning regulations and social fairness, gmw.cn reported.
The number of women from the mainland giving birth in Hong Kong jumped to 29,766 in 2009 from 709 in 2000. In Shenzhen, a fine will be imposed by local authorities if a couple gives birth outside of the city to a second child but either holds a Shenzhen hukou, or household registration permit.