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UPDATED: 16:36, May 24, 2004
Imbalances emerge in population growth
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Although China has successfully prevented around 300 million would-be births since it implemented the family planning policy in the late 1970s, problems such as birthrate imbalance between urban and rural areas and the imbalance between economically developed and backward areas, have emerged.

China Youth Daily on Monday said in an article that by the end of 2003, China's whole population held at 1.29 billion, taking up to 21 percent of the world total.

The country's population now has three features of low birth rate, low death rate and low growth rate.

However, birthrate imbalance between urban and rural areas and the imbalance between eastern and western areas have emerged at the same time, said the article.

Today, China's urban birthrate is lower than the rural birthrate. The "One Child" policy is strictly implemented in cities, while in China's vast rural areas, it is still common to see one couple produce two or more children.

"Although China enjoys a low birth rate in general, the birthrate in rural areas, where medical care and education are hard to guarantee to children, is still on the rise," said the article.

There is also a gap between the birthrate in the country's well developed eastern areas and that in the economically backward western areas. The high-gear economic growth and fast life rhythm have changed urban people's opinion on child bearing.

The average marriage age and pregnancy age have climbed in China's economically developed cities and the concept of "DINK (double income no kids)" has been accepted by more and more affluent couples in those cities.

In metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai,the birthrates have been below zero, while in western areas, people still hold opinions like child bearing is for extending family tradition and therefore violation of family planning policy is frequently seen, the article said.

The article made a comment that population policies should not only focus on birth control, but the improvement of the whole population's quality. If the birthrate in rural areas keeps higher than that of urban areas, the economic development gap between urban and rural areas will be further enlarged and the country's comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development program will be undermined.

At the same time, the low urban birthrate makes final establishment of a social security system an urgent task. Moreover,the country's first "only child" generation has come to the age of supporting their aged parents. It also requires the social security system be improved, the article said.

Earlier this month at an academic forum held in Beijing, Zhang Weiqing, minister in charge of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, mentioned other population issues, such as newborn sex disproportion and population aging.

He also urged more research on population development strategy to be done in a bid to solve a series of population issues.

Source: Xinhua

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