China says two-child policy not immediately effective

Beijing, Nov 2 (IANS) China’s top family planning authority said its local affiliates must implement the current one-child policy till a new policy allowing all couples to have two children goes into effect after being ratified by legislators.

Local authorities in each province should not carry out the two-child policy “wilfully”, Xinhua cited the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) as saying on Sunday, refuting claims by one local official that the new policy was effective as soon as it was announced.

“Those pregnant with a second child will not be punished as of today,” Zhan Ming, deputy director of health and family planning commission in China’s Hunan province, said on October 30.

The Communist Party of China (CPC) announced the abolishment of its decades-old one-child policy at the close of a key meeting on October 29, in an attempt to balance population development and offset the burden of an ageing population.

According to a release after the plenum, a final plan for the policy change will be ratified by the annual session of China’s top legislature in March.

The NHFPC estimated that about 90 million families may qualify for the new two-child policy, which would help raise the population to an estimated 1.45 billion by 2030.

China, the world’s most populous nation, had 1.37 billion people at the end of 2014.

The one-child policy was introduced in the late 1970s to rein in the surging population by limiting most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two children, if the first child born was a girl.

The policy was later relaxed to say that any parents could have a second child if they were both only children.

It was further relaxed in November 2013, with its current form stipulating that couples are allowed to have two children if one of them is an only child.

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