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China won't waver in family planning policy: official
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China will by no means waver in its family planning policy anytime soon, said Zhang Weiqing, the top official in charge of family planning, refuting rumors that the decades-old policy could be scrapped.

"The policy won't change at the current stage," said Zhang, a member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body.

He said the country has ushered in a babyboom that will last for a decade, as babyboomers born in the 1970s and early 1980s have reached childbearing age.

"Changes to the family planning policy now could lead to population rises, posing higher pressure on China's future development," said Zhang, director of the State Population and Family Planning Commission, on the sideline of the political advisory session.

Under the current policy framework, China has mapped out preferential policies in favor of one-child families and offers them cash rewards.

China's "one-child" policy has been in effect for more than three decades and prevented an estimated 400 million births. It limits most urban couples to one child and rural couples to two.

Many Chinese cities impose hefty fines on couples who violate the rule, including a growing number of celebrities who will face heavier fines than others.

Couples can potentially be fined up to 10 times the local per capita income, though actual fines are often lower. In Beijing, for example, the per capita annual income for urban residents was 21,989 yuan in 2007. Sources said that the fine in Beijing now is around 100,000 yuan.

(Xinhua News Agency, March 6, 2008)

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