BEIJING, Nov. 11 -- China's family planning policy has helped ease constraints on resources and environmental pressure, Mao Qun'an, National Health and Family Planning Commission spokesman, told a press conference Monday.
He said the policy had contained the rapidly swelling population. The country's birth rate dwindled from 33.4 to 12.1 per thousand from 1970 to 2012.
Last year, the population of new borns stood at 16.35 million, with an increase of 6.69 million from 2011, according to Mao.
Without the policy, Mao estimated, China today might have to support a population of 1.7 to 1.8 billion, and per capita ownership of resources, including arable land, grain, forests, drinking water and energy, would be 20 percent less than what it is today.
If that was case, resource and environment capacity would not be able to support rapid economic development, Mao said.
In the late 1970s, China introduced its family planning policy to rein in population growth by limiting most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two children, if the first was a girl.
The policy was later relaxed, with the current rule stipulating that to have a second child, both parents must be only children.