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Nation to Legislate Population, Family Planning Policies

China's commitment to international conventions has been incorporated into the nation's first legislation on population and family planning which is expected to receive its first reading by national legislators next week.

"The legislation will guarantee that individuals enjoy the right to child-bearing as well as improved reproductive health and family planning services," said Shi Chunjing, vice-director of the Regulation Department with the State Family Planning Commission.

Shi's commission is mainly responsible for the drafting of the legislation.

Conditions are ripe now to introduce this legislation, as the idea of family planning and the importance of reproductive health have been widely accepted by the public, Shi said.

Besides learning from the nation's own practices of the past few years, the drafters of the legislation have also introduced some legislative ideas from international conventions such as stipulations on child-bearing rights, she said.

The draft legislation mirrors China's commitment to the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, she added.

The conference, attended by 179 countries, adopted a 20-year Program of Action that aims to make reproductive health care, including family planning, universally available by the year 2015 or sooner.

The program emphasizes the link between population and development and recognizes that the formulation and implementation of population policies are the responsibility of each country and should take into account the economic, social, environmental and cultural conditions existent in each country.

Family planning is one of the nation's basic state policies, and guides the sustainable development of the country and its population of over 1.2 billion.

With the implementation of the policy, China has successfully held back the country's rapidly increasing tendency towards population growth over the past 30 years, Shi said.

The natural growth rate of the population has been kept to less than 10 per thousand since 1998.

The mainland population is expected to be within 1.4 billion by the end of 2010 with an annual birth rate under 15 per thousand, according to figures from Shi's commission.

The State Council will propose the draft law on population and family planning to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the nation's top legislative body, next Tuesday when legislators hold their bimonthly meeting.

A draft legislation usually becomes law after three rounds of deliberation by national legislators, according to China's Law on Legislative Procedure.

(China Daily 04/21/2001)

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