MOSCOW, November 7 (RIA Novosti) — Despite China relaxing its one-child policy, this year only 700,000 more couples applied to authorities to have a second child, less than expected.
"Because of concerns over child-bearing and child-raising costs, or other career-related considerations, many young couples are not in a hurry to have children," Zhao Yanpei, a senior official at the National Health and Family Planning Commission, told AP at a briefing this week.
In December last year the Chinese National People's Congress approved a resolution which allowed couples to have two children if either parent is themselves an only child. The move followed previous exemptions to the one-child policy, which was introduced in the late 1970s. These exceptions include rural peasants whose first child is a girl, couples who are both from ethnic minorities, and couples who are both only children.
Wang Pei'an, Vice Minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said last year that China’s total fertility rate has declined to 1.5 to 1.6 and is now comparable to that in developed countries. In an interview published on the Commission’s website he quoted a letter issued in 1980 from the CPC Central Committee, which stated: “In 30 years, when the current extremely tense population situation is alleviated, a different population policy can be adopted.”
Pei’an went on to say, “At present, the conditions are appropriate and the time is favorable for adopting the two-child fertility policy for couples where either the husband or the wife is from a single child family.”
However, Chinadaily reports that despite more than 11 mln couples becoming eligible to have a second child, only 700,000 applied, much less than the Commission’s estimated 2 mln. 620,000 of those who applied received a permit from authorities.
In Zhejiang province, the first to implement the policy, expectations that an extra 80,000 babies would be born under the policy have been revised down to 20,000. Wang Guojing, deputy director of the province's Health and Family Planning Commission, told Chinadaily: "Some may choose not to give birth this year. Others may be too busy with work to give birth to another one. Some may be too old to give birth."
Yesterday Xinhua reported that Tibet has become the 30th and latest province to implement the resolution. Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is now the only region in the Chinese mainland that has not yet introduced the change.