CHINA / SOCIETY
Multiple representatives call for further loosening of family planning policy
Published: Mar 03, 2021 09:08 PM
Staff members bath babies in a postnatal confinement center in Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province, Dec. 1, 2017. About 17.23 million babies were born in 2017, of which 51 percent have an older sibling, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission. However, the total number of births fell by about 630,000 compared with 2016 while percentage of the population aged over 60 rose from 16.7 percent in 2016 to 17.3 percent in 2017. (Xinhua/Liu Junxi)

Staff members bath babies in a postnatal confinement center in Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province, Dec. 1, 2017. About 17.23 million babies were born in 2017, of which 51 percent have an older sibling, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission. However, the total number of births fell by about 630,000 compared with 2016 while percentage of the population aged over 60 rose from 16.7 percent in 2016 to 17.3 percent in 2017. (Xinhua/Liu Junxi)

China's aging population has turned into such a big concern that several lawmakers and political advisors feel it is imperative to further relax the family planning policy by allowing Chinese couples to have a third child, and Chinese society is paying close attention as to whether the population policy will see some "changes" in this year's two sessions. 

Huang Xihua, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) from South China's Guangdong Province, continued to call on the country to relax the family planning policy and reduce the burden for families in terms of taxes, education, medical care and employment. 

"We hope that Chinese families are willing to give birth to more children and can also afford to raise them," Huang told the Global Times. 

The number of births in China has fallen each year since 2017. A total of 14.65 million people were born in China in 2019, or 580,000 fewer than the previous year, and the birth rate was 10.48 per thousand, the lowest since 2000, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. 

Collectively, the three northeastern provinces reported the lowest birth rate.

"China could consider implementing the third-child policy and a pilot policy can be launched in Guangdong Province," Zhu Lieyu, an NPC deputy who is a lawyer from the Guoding Law Firm in Guangdong, told the Global Times. 

"Guangdong is a province with a vibrant economy, and rich educational and medical resources. People in some cities have strong traditional values. All these affect locals' desire to have children," Zhu said, noting that a pilot policy here can serve as an example to observe the impact of the third-child policy and a reference for future decision-making. 

Feng Xiaomin, an NPC deputy and the principal of Yichun Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital in the city of Yichun, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, found that although people living in some counties along the Heilongjiang border have already been allowed to have three children, she has only come across two such families in the past five years.

She said her proposal would include childcare services in the basic public service policy, increase subsidies for maternity insurance compensation, and extend maternity leave and parental leave.

In the past few years, some Chinese legislators have called for relaxing the family planning policy during the two sessions. 

In February, China's National Health Commission, in response to an NPC deputy proposal, said Northeast China regions can, based on local situation, research the impact of lifting family planning policy and propose pilot programs on birth policies. 

The proposal for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period, which was released in November, scrapped the phrase of "family planning" in the previous five-year plans, while putting forth the concept of "inclusiveness" in the fertility policy for the first time, which ignited wide curiosity about its implications.


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