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One Child Parents Urged to Have Two Kids
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In a major effort to balance the city of Guangzhou's aging population parents who are the only children of their families are being encouraged to have a second child. 

"This is not a local policy as the encouragement we are giving conforms with the national family planning system," said Duan Jianhua, deputy director of the Guangzhou Population and Family Planning Committee.

According to a policy issued by the National Population and Family Planning Commission in 2000 couples from one-child families in 27 provinces are allowed to have a second child.

"The policy aims to help reduce the pressure on younger members of society caused by the ever-increasing aging population," said Duan. However, according to Duan, there are only a small number of couples in the city willing to have a second child because of the increased financial burden.

"With both parents coming from one-child families these couples will bear full responsibility for looking after their parents and children," said Duan. "As a result many prefer to having no children to having two."

At present Guangzhou has more than 100,000 married couples without children and this accounts for 11.3 percent of the total number of married couples, according to Duan.

In another development the municipal government is considering providing poorer, only-child families in Guangzhou with financial aid.

"We're attaching great importance to the living conditions of such families especially those where parents have lost their jobs and may not be able to provide a healthy and sound living environment for their children," said Duan.

According to a recent survey by the local population and family planning authority more than 8,000 only-child families in the city have encountered "great financial problems."

According to Duan, another city-wide survey is currently being conducted on the state of one-child families. Currently, Guangzhou has 372,631 such families, about 15 percent of the total.

"The survey aims to provide a detailed look at living conditions especially families' financial situation," said Duan. Financial aid for families with financial problems would be calculated on its results. "Parents in these families often have been injured at work and laid off, or fell seriously ill, leading to lower incomes," Duan added. 

Based on the survey the local population and family planning department will submit a proposal to the Guangzhou municipal government calling for more financial support for these families.

"These families are supporters of the family planning policy," said Duan. "In turn they should be supported by the government."

(China Daily November 10, 2006)

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