Family planning as a basic national policy must remain unchanged if China is to keep its population within 1.36 billion by the end of 2010 and within 1.45 billion by the end of 2020. So couples should continue to be encouraged to have only one child, although an online survey shows that about 60 percent of those polled prefer two children.
It is not accurate to interpret the family planning as a one-child policy because it makes a distinction between urban and rural areas and between different regions. Husbands and wives who are both the only children are also eligible to have two children.
China's family planning policy has prevented more than 400 million births in the past three decades. Given the increasing population pressure on global resources and the environment, this has not only relieved China of the great burden on its resources, it has also contributed to the world's economic and social development at large.
It is estimated that the global population will increase to 8.9 billion by 2050 from the current number of more than 6 billion. Considering the carbon footprint everyone leaves behind, it is imperative for a country like China, whose population makes up one-fifth of the word's total, to strictly follow its family planning.
It is true that some negative impacts such as the problem of an aging population and unbalanced sex ratio are looming large. These are being cited as reasons for a let-up on the family planning policy.
However, forging ahead with our family planning is one thing and making enough efforts to deal with the negative effects is another.
There should not have to be any contradiction in working on the two fronts and both must receive equal attention.
Among other things, the phenomenon that an increasing number of rich people and celebrities are having more children than what policy permits poses a challenge to the fairness in implementing the policy.
The relevant law stipulates that any violator faces a fine. But if the fine is not heavy enough to have teeth, the rich and celebrities will get away with their violations. Some cities like Beijing have already meted heavier fines on violators and some have even published violators' names in order to exert moral pressure on them.
Things can go very wrong if some assume that they can violate the law because they are rich.
So it is necessary to have more severe penalties in place or some other measures to make violators realize their social responsibility and their obligation to abide by the law.
It will not be easy for some Chinese people to give up their traditional idea of cherishing big families with more children. But it is a duty necessary for the happiness of later generations and for the sustainable development of humans.
(China Daily April 14, 2009)