One-child policy unchanged: Shanghai official

0 CommentsPrintE-mail Global Times, September 8, 2009
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Go forth and multiply, citizens, appeared to be the message from Shanghai government until officials recently backtracked and reiterated that the old one-child policy remained unchanged.

As it turned out, the much-misunderstood July 22 announcement was all simply a matter of emphasis. The original regulation was indeed unchanged: the same as when it was released in 2004.

In 2004 Shanghai authorities had emphasized the one-child part of the regulation, downplaying any exceptions that permit a second child. Thus few had noticed these exceptions before the July 22 press conference.

Facing a potential new birth peak in 2015, however, Shanghai reportedly sought to promote the long-overlooked second-child clauses to combat the danger of a graying population.

No sooner had this been reported than Xie Lingli, chief of Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission, denied it: Shanghai planned no incentives toward two-child families. Nor did the city plan to relax its headline policy of one child per family even if the population grays faster than expected, Guangzhou Daily reported Xie as saying three days after the July 22 conference.

The original 2004 exemptions include rural couples, ethnic minorities and parents without siblings: the latter meaning China's first generation of only children come of age able to give their own children something they themselves had always lacked: a brother or sister.

Only the lonely

Yet of 20,649 18-30-year-old Shanghainese, only 14.5 percent of only children said they wanted two children, according to a Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission 2003 survey. Thirteen percent of those who already had siblings stated the same preference.

The reason 81 percent preferred just the one child according to 56 percent of them, was the extra cost of a second child. Other worries included the couple's career development and the child's future employment, according to New Weekly, a Guangzhou-based magazine. Some 4.5 percent preferred no child at all.

"I don't even want one child," a woman white-collar office worker qualified for two children told the Global Times. "One more child means more trouble and more work. Once one child is born, the quality of family life will obviously decline."

To afford a second child, said the Shanghainese woman who asked not to be named, a couple needs "financial stamina".

"Some richer friends of mine have chosen to have two kids in their families.

"Unlike people like me, they are rich enough to raise more than one child. "

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