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China to maintain family planning policy despite challenges

(Xinhua)

09:23, November 01, 2011

BEIJING, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Leng Xuefeng used to beg to have a male offspring after his wife gave birth to a daughter two years ago.8 Leng's wishes did not go unanswered, but in fact were responded to in an exceedingly generous fashion: his wife became pregnant earlier this year and gave birth to twin boys in October.

Both Leng and his wife are the only children in their respective families and are thus entitled to have a second child due to a recent change in China's decades-old family planning policy.

The policy, which used to limit urban couples to having only one child,has now been modified to allow any couple to have a second child, as long as both parents are only children themselves.

In a culture where a newborn male is considered to be a blessing, Leng's words after the birth of his sons sounded somewhat ungrateful.

"Now my account will have to be frozen to save for my son's dowry," wrote the 30-year-old low-ranking official on his microblog.

Leng and his wife will have to support the twins until at least 2030, when millions of young men of marrying age might not be able to get married due to China's gender imbalance.

In addition, tuition fees for three children will cost a fortune for the couple, who live in the sprawling metropolis of Chongqing in southwest China.

"Even when they grow up, they will be facing competition from their peers in job-hunting and find it difficult to support their elders," Leng said.

The worries of the Leng family reflect the anxieties that are haunting both policymakers and young parents, as they must figure out how to tackle the issues brought about by a changing demographic structure.

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