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|Tuesday, November 07, 2000, updated at 09:10(GMT+8)|
Population Goal: Less Than 1.4 Billion by 2010China will strive to keep its population below 1.4 billion over the next 10 years, State Family Planning Commission minister has said.
The government will promote the use of contraceptives through publicity and education and improve family planning services, said Zhang Weiqing.
The minister made the remarks at the annual board meeting of the Partners in Population and Development by South-South Co-operation, held over the weekend.
The minister said the government is mapping out a Programme of Action for Population and Development in China, which aims to create a favourable population environment for the economic and social development of the country.
Fundamental targets of the programme include maintaining a steady economic growth, controlling population growth, enhancing people's quality of life, protecting natural resources, keeping a sound ecological environmental and boosting sustainable economic and social development.
The minister pointed out that the population problem was still a key factor which could be an obstacle to China's overall development.
The minister predicted that China's population would increase by an average of 10 million a year over the next decade. The number would not fall until it reached a peak of 1.6 billion in the middle of the 21st century.
The country has a large population of a working age, which is expected to peak at 900 million in the next few decades. This peak would create a pressure on economic development and the job market, with unemployment levels bound to rise. An ageing population is also seen as a problem to be tackled.
By the end of this year, the number of elderly people above 60 will be up to 130 million, by 2030 the number will be 357 million, and by 2050 it will jump to 439 million, making up a quarter of the total population.
Quality of life also needs to be improved, said Zhang. Many people are illiterate or semi-illiterate, and about 4 to 6 per cent of newborn babies each year suffer from various inborn diseases, he said.
As people's living standards and literacy levels improve, they will demand better services for family planning, health, childbirth and child support. In rural areas, these services are very thin on the ground, said Zhang.
Zhang said the country will stick to a long-term family planning policy, to create more jobs, set up a sound social insurance system and place importance on quality education and women and children health improvement.
Zhang said China would collaborate with other developing countries in population and family planning matters, actively participating in the South-South co-operation.
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