Ma Dairong holds her twin girls in Mianzhu, Sichuan, May 8, 2012. (Photo/Xinhua)
China is expected to fully implement a policy to allow couples in which one spouse comes from a family with only one child to have a second child, instead of launching a trial run in certain cities and provinces, Shanghai's First Financial Daily reports.
In view of the upcoming third plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Standing Committee, public expectations regarding the move are mounting.
A source said the government will step up the pace to adjust the national birth control policy and will gradually but comprehensively lift restrictions imposed on the birth of a second child. Beijing first implemented the one-child policy in 1980 and began making adjustments to many aspects of the policy in the early 2000s.
The source revealed that the relaxation of the policy will not be a one-step process but rather will be a gradual process based on how the changes are received. The end goal, however, is to permit the birth of a second child universally, the source said.
Recently, demand for this change in policy has become more urgent in view of the concerns stemming from the nation's demographics. The number of people over 60 years of age accounted for 13.26% of the total population in 2010 and this proportion is rising fast, according to the sixth and most recent official national census.
Meanwhile, the number of people aged 0-14 has dropped rapidly to a new low of 16.6% of the total population, a dip of 6.29 percentage points over five years. A society with more than 10% of the population over 60 is considered an aging society, according to the United Nations. If 0-14 year-olds account for between 15%-18% of the total population, it's a sign of a declining birth rate.
China's population faces the prospect of becoming an aging society with a declining birth rate, which would mean that the younger generation would have to support a massive number of seniors. The First Financial Daily said that despite the dire situation, China's pace in adjusting its birth policy remains slow, citing the example of most of its provinces in not following the policy of allowing a second child if either of the spouse was an only child, before 2000.
Henan province in central China only started following the policy at the end of 2011, a decade later than other provinces, out of concern that its population would increase rapidly. Data shows, however, that after the implementation of the policy, the population of Henan province, which has a total population of over 100 million, only increased by 18,000 at what is considered a peak time.
Gu Baochang, a professor at Renmin University of China in Beijing, stated that "change is better than no change" regarding the full implementation of the second-child policy.
"The adjustment of the population policy is lagging far behind the real need for a solution," Gu said, adding that if the government delayed things further, it will find it even harder to solve the population problem.