China Expects to Meet Food Needs After Easing Child-Birth Limit

China will meet population targets even after easing its one-child policy, avoiding heightened pressure on food and health-care resources, a government official said.

The plan to allow parents to have two children if either is an only child won’t trigger a surge in births in the short term as relatively few couples fulfill the criterion, Wang Peian, deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said in a statement on the government website today.

The Communist Party pledged yesterday to ease family planning rules that were put in place three years after Chairman Mao Zedong’s death in 1976 and have led to a declining labor force. The population will remain “significantly” below the 2020 target of 1.43 billion used for food and public service planning, Wang said.

“We can say confidently that implementing the birth policy will not bring huge pressure on food security, health-care, education, jobs and other basic public services,” Wang said in the statement. The policy will help keep China’s labor force at a reasonable size, and ease the speed of population aging, he added.

China’s population will peak “well” below 1.5 billion in about 2033, Wang said.

The Communist Party’s leaders announced the plan to ease the one-child policy with other reforms such as the expansion of farmers’ land rights after a four-day conclave in Beijing this month.

Each of China’s provinces will be allowed to decide when to implement the new rule based on local conditions, Wang said, without giving any specific dates.

— With assistance by Daryl Loo

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