China's population policy draws wide praise

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Demographers and scholars worldwide have spoken highly of China's family-planning policy over the past 30 years and more, saying it has helped lower the world population growth.

"We know that China, being the most populous country in the world, is especially important in the area of population," said Hania Zlotnik, director of the Population Division of the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

Whatever happens in China has a great impact on world population, and certainly on the population in the developing world, she explained.

"Thanks to the changes in fertility, especially in China, the growth rate of the world population (and) of the developing country population is a quarter of a point lower today than it would have been if China did not have such a big drop in family size," she said in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.

China's family planning policy, which requires most couples have one child in urban areas and two in rural areas, has been in effect for more than three decades. It has helped prevent an estimated 400 million births. That means if China had not implemented its family planning policy, its total population would have exceeded 1.7 billion in 2008.

"So it's a much more complex policy than the slogan of one child per woman. Therefore, China doesn't have, at this moment, one of the lowest fertility in the world," she said. "It has a moderately low fertility. It is being lowered and that is an achievement."

Gill Greer, director-general of the London-based International Planned Parenthood Federation, told Xinhua in a recent interview that the family planning policy has contributed a great deal to China's remarkable economic and social achievements over the past 30 years.

By adopting the population control policy, Greer said, China has reduced its population growth rate and alleviated problems from overpopulation.

"Thus, the policy is very conducive to China's development in various aspects such as economy, education and health care services," she said.

American scholar Barbara Pillsbury, who has worked for the United Nations Population Agency, shared similar views with Greer.

"China won't have achieved so much in the country's development if it did not pursue its population control policy," she said.

Pillsbury compared China's population policy with India and said China has successfully controlled its population while India's population will increase dramatically.

She predicted that by 2040, India will surpass China as the world's most populous country with 1.52 billion people, while China's population is expected to stand at 1.45 billion.

Carl Haub, a senior demographer at the non-profit Population Reference Bureau, based in Washington DC, told Xinhua that birth planning, a basic national policy that China has stuck to for over30 years, has helped reduce the country's population growth rate.

"It has not only lowered China's demand for resources from outside the country, but also relieved pressure on the domestic labor market," he said.

In this way, the Chinese government could focus its efforts on providing better material conditions for its people, and improving their living standards," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency September 29, 2009)

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