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When Small Is Beautiful

Buzanap Osman, a mother of two in northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, can have three children under China's birth control policy for ethnic groups. However, with the support of her husband she voluntarily had a sterilization operation recently.

The 36-year-old mother does not regret giving up the right to have a third child. "If I have more children, life will get more difficult and I won't have free time," she said.

Currently, she is attending an agro-technical training course and takes part in physical and recreational activities whenever she is free.

Buzanap Osman lives in a village in Kashi Prefecture in southern Xinjiang. Her husband is busy trans-porting dried fruit all year round, earning an average of 30,000 yuan annually. Their elder son is at a junior middle school and the younger one is at primary school.

Ayigul, Buzanap Osman's mother-in-law, endorses the young couple's decision.

"In the past, I kept to the traditional concept of 'The more children one has, the more happiness she will enjoy' and had 12 children. My husband had several diseases caused by over-fatigue brought about by trying to raise such a large family. We were always short of money," she told Xinhua.

China, the world's largest developing country with a population of more than 1.2 billion, has the birth control policy as one of its fundamental state programs.

The Han, the most populous nationality in China, practices the "one child for one couple" policy. But the country's ethnic people are permitted to have two or three children because of their small population and because they live in frontier areas with harsh natural conditions.

Xinjiang, the home of 47 nationalities, has a population of 19 million, 60 percent of which is made up of ethnic people.

The majority of local residents had no concept of planned births before 1990 when the family planning policy was introduced to the region.

Over the past 11 years, the government has given wide publicity to the importance of family planning in China and has given widespread rudimentary information about birth control to married couples.

According to regional statistics, 110,000 ethnic couples in Xinjiang have chosen to have two or three children. About 9,670 couples prefer to have only one child. The birth control rate in Xinjiang has climbed from 77 percent in 1990 to last year's 98 percent.

(eastday.com January 4, 2002)

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