Investors look to nappies, pianos as China drops one child policy
China will eventually scrap family planning restrictions, a senior official said yesterday, 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 has averted 400 million births since 1980.
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 timeframe. Provincial legislatures would have to first write it into law.
Mr Mao said China would further loosen the policy but signaled the government would not abandon it in the near term.
He said he could not say when or how the policy would change.
"We can say that China, through its family planning policy, has controlled its rapid population growth and eased the pressures that population imposes on the natural environment. . . But we are also very clear that, in order to obtain these achievements, the country's people have made a great sacrifice.
"We do not deny there is a contradiction between the state's implementation of the family planning policy and the desire of every individual and every family to give birth," he said.
A growing number of scholars has urged the government to reform the one-child policy that is now regarded by many experts as outdated and harmful to the economy.
Although it is known internationally as the one-child policy, China's rules governing family planning are more complicated. There are numerous exceptions governing the policy.
"As for the policy of family planning, (we) must adhere to it for a fairly long period of time," Mr Mao said. "Because our country's demographic situation still needs it."
The government said last week that it would allow couples, in which one of the parents was an only child, to have a second child.
In recent days, shares of baby formula, stroller, nappy and even piano manufacturers rose sharply on expectations that demand would spike. Chinese condom maker Humanwell Healthcare Group dipped.
With last week's relaxation of the policy, about one million more babies will be born each year in China, Mr Mao said. He added there was no resistance from the provinces in implementing the new policy.
"From what we know about the situation, the attitudes from various places are generally welcoming, including those provinces that have a large population base," he said.
"I am a single child and my husband isn't, so I hope this policy can be implemented soon, because I like children and they can keep each other company," Yu Jing, a 31-year-old mother of one said at a Beijing kindergarten. (Reuters)