VI. Optimization Through Reform and
Development

Practice has shown that China's population and family planning programme has been crowned with success. But we should also clearly see that there is still imbalance in development in various areas, instability in fertility levels in many regions, and the high birth rate in others. The working style and service level concerning family planning in most rural regions, especially in some economically underdeveloped areas, remain to be improved. In the process of establishing the socialist market economic system, family planning work is faced with new situations and new problems. There are also problems in the quality and structure of population that should not be neglected. These problems include the high sex ratio and the growing population aging. Therefore, China is still confronted with a severe challenge on issues of population and development. To carry out family planning and population control, and improve population quality remain an arduous and urgent task of strategic significance.

The reform targeted at establishing a socialist market economic system is further promoting the development of social productive forces. At the same time, it has created favourable social and economic conditions for optimizing the family planning work. The Chinese government will unswervingly continue to carry out the basic national policy of family planning, and promote a coordinated development between population on one hand and the economy, society, resources and environment on the other. On one hand, we will adhere to and continually improve the basic experience that suits China's specific conditions and that has proved effective in practice; on the other, we should adapt ourselves to the new situation, emancipate the mind, seek truth from facts and unceasingly deepen the reform, to improve the level of family planning work. The practice of pursuing family planning mainly through administrative means and campaigns in some areas must be resolutely changed. The emphasis should be put on the publicity and education, contraception and regular work. Quality service in family planning should be provided to the people of child-bearing age, particularly the reproductive health care for women, to protect their health. The publicity and education and the management of family planning programme should serve the purpose of serving people's production, livelihood and fertility. With this in mind, the "Programme of China's Family Planning Work (1995-2000)" was formulated by the Chinese government at the end of 1994, setting clear demands on the task, target, principle and measures in deepening the development of family planning work.

The Chinese government holds that the issue of population is fundamentally one of development. Population is closely and inseparably related to economic and social development. Therefore, China always considers population and family planning an important component part of the strategy for the substained national economic and social development, and they are planned and implemented together with economic and social issues.

Since China's reform and opening to the outside world, the development of national economy, science, technology, education, public health and social welfare has played an active and promotive role in changing people's concept of fertility and in lowering the birth rate. This role is particularly evident in areas where the economy has developed rapidly. As economic development and population control promote each other, these areas have seen a transition, in a relatively short period of time, to the modern population reproduction pattern characterized by a low birth rate, low death rate and low natural growth rate. As for poverty-stricken areas where the economy is relatively backward, since the 1980s, the Chinese government has formulated a comprehensive strategy in regard to the overall planning, comprehensive management and coordinated development in population, grain, ecology and resources. It has carried out extensive activities to help the poor in their development and integrated these activities with family planning, vigorously accelerating the economic and social development in these areas.

On the basis of summing up experiences of history and the innovations of the people, the Chinese government in recent years has put forward that the rural areas should combine family planning with developing economy, helping peasants to become better off through hard work, and building progressive and happy families. Through providing service to peasants in production, livelihood and fertility, and above all through helping families practising family planning to become better off, more and more families were guided to have less children and to improve their financial situation as soon as possible. This practice has won warm support from governments at all levels, cadres at grass-roots level and the people. In a relatively short period of time, this work has been implemented in most of the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities throughout the country. This is not only good for accelerating rural economic development, increasing peasants' income, and improving their living standard, but it can also make them realize from their immediate interests the benefit of having less children, gradually changing their attitudes towards fertility, hightening their awareness of and enthusiasm for carrying out family planning. Rural women not only take an active part in these activities but they also benefit mostly from them. Through these activities, they have enhanced their enthusiasm for production, increased their income from labour, improved their status in both the family and society and obtained greater independence in marriage and childbirth.

In order to fundamentally and comprehensively solve China's population problem, comprehensive measures have to be adopted. Such measures include vigorously developing the economy, getting rid of poverty, protecting the ecological environment, rationally developing and utilizing resources, popularizing education, developing medical service and maternal and child health care, improving the social security system --especially the insurance system for the aged, steadily advancing urbanization, improving women's status, and guaranteeing the legal rights and interests of women. Over the past few years, the Chinese government has formulated plans, policies and measures in these fields, providing a more favourable environment for the implementation of family planning.

The Chinese government and the society as a whole have paid close attention to the recent tendency of the high sex ratio. The problem will be gradually solved through heightened publicity and education, and measures have been taken to guarantee the legal rights and interests of women and children; to severely prohibit, except when called for medically, the technical examination of fetus for determining sex followed by selective abortion; and to improve birth report and statistical system.

The Chinese government strongly believes that the problems that have appeared in the course of implementing China's family planning programme will be solved steadily in the process of reform and development, before it can be gradually improved and perfected.