Demographic focus needed under relaxed family planning: expert

BEIJING, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese expert has called for attention to be placed on the country's demographic challenges, predicting that the relaxation of China's family planning policy will be met with official resistance.

Gu Baochang, professor with the Population Development Studies Center under Renmin University, said low fertility rates, an aging population, fast urbanization and large-scale migration are risks that China will have to address when pursuing sound development, the China Youth Daily newspaper reported on Thursday.

China's family planning policy was first 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.

In November, however, the Communist Party of China decided that China will loosen its decades-long one-child policy, allowing couples to have two children if one of them is an only child.

Previously, in urban areas, couples could only have two children if both the father and mother were only children.

The China Youth Daily quoted Gu as saying that many officials maintain that China should keep its family planning policy unchanged because they fear per capita gross domestic product (GDP) will be lowered if more people are born.

In China, GDP growth is an important factor to evaluate officials' achievements.

According to Gu, around 15 million people are born each year in China, which has little impact on the population as a whole. Moreover, an increase of newborns will have a positive effect on the economy as they will boost domestic demand.

Gu urged the Chinese youth to become aware of China's demographic challenges.

The professor said those born in the 1980s and 1990s have to speak for themselves on the issue of demographic challenges, because China's small families mean that no more than two laborers will have to provide for each of them when they get old.