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One-child Policy Eases for No-sibling Couples
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A Chinese spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that in all Chinese provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, except for Henan Province, couples in which both parents are only children can themselves give birth to two children.

"Those couples can choose to have one or two children or no children at all," Yu Xuejun, spokesman with China's National Population and Family Planning Commission said in an interview with the central government website.

China's national family planning policy -- implemented in 1979 -- allows rural families to raise two children but only one child in urban areas.

The policy allowed China to reduce the speed of population growth, delaying by four years the 1.3 billion figure reached at the beginning of 2005.

However many local governments have loosened the policy by allowing urban couples who were both only children to raise a second child.

But Henan Province, the most populated province with more than 97 million residents, has cleaved to the original policy.

Yu said media reports of a single-child policy across the country were mistaken, saying that different practices obtained in different regions.

"China's rural regions have comparatively less public resources than cities and many farmers rely on their children to provide for them in their old age," Yu said, "that is why we allow farmers to raise more children."

China faces a range of social problems partly caused by its huge population -- employment pressures, housing and resource shortages to name just a few. And its 1.3 billion population is unevenly distributed in the 31 provinces, regions and municipalities.

A family planning policy can only reduce the number of births, it can't solve all these problems, Yu said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 11, 2007)

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