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Should the One-Child Policy Continue?

The rationale for the one-child policy was based on the common belief in the late 1970s: arable land was limited but the population kept growing. So, measures to control rocketing population growth were necessary.

"Is hunger inevitable in a country of a large population and relatively little arable land" (plus, China actually has extensive territory)? Some people are choosing to neglect human beings' initiative and also economic features in the country's present industrial and information age. There are so many other countries that have a far greater population density than China-and they either never bother to control their fertility rate or only practice loose measures. But these countries still enjoy rapid economic growth and increasingly rising living standards. Many of our Asian neighbors are good examples.

Taiwan and Zhejiang are China's most densely populated provinces. Nonetheless they boast the country's highest economic growth rates and best living conditions. What's the secret here? Apart from their diligence and wisdom, they know how to make money in the rest of the country and the rest of the world.

In the past three decades China's population kept growing under inertia, but the country still enjoyed rapid economic growth. One important reason is that now we are blessed with a "demographic dividend!" I've never heard of any other country in the world regarding its population as such a huge burden. We know population is an important resource for a country's economic development. It is the foundation of national strength and the backbone of a country's national defense!

In Europe, for example, during the past half century, economic, education and cultural progress has helped slow down population growth-in a way nature is conducting self-adjustment. We've already seen this tendency in China with more and more young couples refusing to have a baby, resulting in more "double income, no kid" families. So we don't need to feel too worried about China's population growth.

Continuation necessary

Huang Hongxiang (www.sznews.com): Given China's current resource supplies, we have to stick to the national policy of family planning, that is, one child for one couple. Any policy will bring both positive and negative effects, and thus what we need to do is to limit the side effects of the one-child policy to a minimum. The current family planning policy was worked out in the late 1970s and needs to be updated to suit the present situation.

Couples that have only one child have actually made a contribution to China's sustainable development and environmental protection. They should be granted certain compensations for their sacrifices.

In Beijing, the biggest problem facing urban one-child families is healthcare. Almost 65 percent of them are plagued by this problem, followed by other problems such as pensions, employment, education and housing. To help one-child families, these are the priorities.

The current preferential policy toward one-child families is subsidization. Each of the couple now receives 5 to 10 yuan ($0.74-1.47) a month (it differs in different provinces). This was a high subsidy in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the average monthly salary was below 100 yuan ($14.71). But it's nothing nowadays when the per-capita annual income in Beijing is already 16,000 yuan ($2,353).

Is it possible for us to adjust the current subsidy policy? Is it possible for the state to input more to provide social security to one-child families, especially in backward rural areas, so as to alleviate their desire to have more children?

Is it possible for the state to provide health insurance for every single child? For one-child families, the biggest worry is that their only child might get ill and even die. If their children are covered by proper health insurance, the parents' worries will be removed.Is it possible to provide the parents with endowment insurance? Traditionally, it is believed that the elderly depend on their sons for living, particularly in rural areas where many parents of a single daughter are left without care in their late years. That's why many people insist on having a son although they've already had several daughters. If they are provided with endowment insurance, they will no longer feel worried about being left without care and will not have more children. If the national budget is unable to cover all rural areas, at least it should embrace those backward central and western regions where excessive unplanned births and unbalanced gender ratio mainly occur.



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