China says on path to eventually scrap one-child policy

Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:00am EST
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By Sui-Lee Wee

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will eventually scrap family planning restrictions, a senior official said on Tuesday, days after the government announced it will allow millions of families to have two children.

China, with nearly 1.4 billion people, is the world's most populous country. The government says the policy of limiting families to one child, which covers 63 per cent of the population, has averted 400 million births since 1980.

But the policy is increasingly seen as harmful to the economy.

The easing of the family planning policy, announced as part of a package of reforms on the weekend, would not take long and would be implemented by the provinces, said Mao Qun'an, spokesman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

He did not give a time-frame. Provincial legislatures would have to first write the measures into law.

Mao said China would further loosen family planning policy but signaled that the government would not abandon it in the near term.

"The situation that you mentioned will be realized one day," Mao said when asked whether China could see a day when there would be no family planning restrictions.

He said he could not say when and how the policy would change.   Continued...

A woman holds onto a safety string attached to the back of a child at a shopping mall in Beijing, November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon