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China's Population to Peak at 1.5 Billion in 2030s
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China's population will peak at 1.5 billion in the mid-2030s, experts have predicted. According to a research document released yesterday, the population will begin to drop slowly after reaching the peak.

Meanwhile, the number of newborn baby boys will continue to outstrip that of girls with 119 boys for every 100 girls, according to the national population development strategy research report.

The boy-girl ratio has remained stable with a national census six years ago yielding roughly the same figure, but it remained worrying, according to the report.

The internationally recognized normal ratio is 103-107 of one sex against 100 of the other. But in China for every 100 newborn baby girls there were 109 boys in 1982 and 111 in 1990.

Fetus gender identification and non-medical abortion, which continue although illegal, are blamed for the gender imbalance in births. 

A draft of a revision to the Criminal Law, which was discussed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) late last year and again this April, proposes that those involved in identifying the gender of a fetus for non-medical purposes should face criminal charges.

Approved by the State Council, the report aimed to investigate population development trends, as well as the relationship between population, the economy, resources and the environment.

More than 300 scholars, including 11 academicians, spent two years compiling the document, which also involved more than 70 governmental departments and organizations. Their research won an award yesterday at a national conference on population and family planning.

"China has now entered its fourth birth peak," Jiang Fan, vice director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, said yesterday. The previous three peaks occurred in 1949, 1962 and 1987.

China's population stood at 1.307 billion in late 2005, according to census figures. The research report urged the government not to change current population policies. In the coming 30 years the average fertility rate will be around 1.8 children per woman, it said.

"A higher or lower fertility rate is not beneficial for economic and social development in China," it added.

China's labor force will become the largest in history in the next 30 years, said Chen Li, director of the national population development strategy research project.

(China Daily June 23, 2006)

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