The Chinese government may consider lifting
restrictions on its notorious one-child policy. Wang
Yuqing, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference,
told the government newspaper People’s Daily that he would like to see a
gradual opening of the one-child policy which has been in force since
1979. 

Because the ageing population problem has
become increasingly prominent in China and the demographic dividend has
reached
a certain stage, this policy should also be gradually opened in urban
areas, he
said. In rural areas and amongst minority groups, it has been possible
for couples to have two children, especially if the first was a girl. 

Mr Wang said that a two-child policy will
not lead to a population boom. Birth rates in large cities, such as Beijing and
Shanghai, are naturally decreasing because the cost of raising a child has
increased and because attitudes have changed. This is also consistent with the
international trend. If quality of life reaches a certain level, the population
will naturally decrease without government control, said Mr Wang.

The Lancet, the UK’s leading medical journal,
hailed the news. “The issue should not be one of economics. Instead, it should
be about fully realising the right of each woman to determine her own
reproductive health and exercise her own choices over the number of children
she and her family have.” ~ People’s
Daily, March 6
; The
Lancet, March 19

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.