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Experts: Relax family-planning policy in Guangdong

By Zheng Caixiong (Chinadaily.com.cn)

16:56, May 18, 2012

Officials in Guangdong, China's most populous province, are being encouraged by population experts to ask the central government for exemptions from the family planning policy.

In order to cope with the province's aging population and predicted labor shortages, Guangdong should seek approval from the central government to allow some couples to have a second child, said Peng Xizhe, a professor from Shanghai-based Fudan University.

"The couples in which either the husband or wife is an only child of their family should be allowed to have a second child in Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong and Macao," Peng told a work conference on population research in Guangzhou on Wednesday.

But sources with the Guangdong provincial commission of population and family planning said the experts' opinions do not represent the government's stand.

"Only the central government has the right to adjust and change the country's family planning policies," said a source with the Guangdong provincial commission of population and family planning who wished to not be named.

According to statistics from Guangdong provincial commission of population and family planning, Guangdong's birth rate has remained low for more than 10 years.

During the past decade, women living in Guangdong have given birth to 1.7 children on average.

And China's family planning policy has averted more than 35 million births in Guangdong since it was introduced 30 years ago, sources with the Guangdong provincial commission of population and family planning said.

But Wan Hongfen, a white-collar worker in Guangzhou, said she will not consider having a second child even if the province relaxes policy in the coming years.

"I don't think I can afford a second baby," said the 28-year-old woman, who has a 2-year-old daughter. "The costs of housing and of bringing up a child are very high in Guangzhou.

"I think I'll have to set aside more than 2 million yuan ($318,400) to bring up my daughter and send her to study abroad after she graduates from a domestic college," she told China Daily on Thursday.

"And I think Guangdong's population will begin to decrease in one or two decades after many residents, especially urban residents, choose to have a DINK (dual income, no kids) family or refuse to have a second child," she added.

With more than 104.3 million residents, Guangdong recently surpassed Henan and Shandong provinces to become the most populous province in China in the previous year. That figure is expected to reach 135 million by the end of 2015.

Guangdong, which contains 1.9 percent of China's total land area, now is home to 9 percent of the Chinese population.

In Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, the population has exceeded 15 million and is projected to reach 18 million in 2020.

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