Beijing will not ease restrictions on the birth of a second child for people with higher educational qualifications, a local family planning official has said.
Li Yunli, deputy head of the Beijing Municipal Population and Family Planning Committee, said the current family planning policy would not change.
Personal quality is a complicated issue and certainly not guaranteed by high educational attainment, Li was quoted as saying by the Beijing Times.
Li said urban residents enjoy much better social security policies than their rural peers. In turn, rural residents receive preferential treatment in regard to a second child.
China's family planning policy encourages couples, apart from those from minority ethnic groups, to have only one child to restrain population expansion. Couples that meet certain conditions can have a second child.
The central authorities have delegated policy-making powers on the issue to local governments.
Beijing's population and family planning policy allows couples who were themselves only sons or only daughters to have a second child.
Li said that she hoped all of these "only child" couples would have a second child which would help solve labor shortages and deal with challenges represented by the aging population.
Beijing's senior population aged 60 and over reached 1.97 million at the end of 2004, making up 13 percent of the city population. The senior population is estimated to rise to 6.5 million by 2050, or 30 percent of the city's total population.
According to the 11th five-year plan (2006-2010) on aging, China's senior population will top 174 million by 2010, accounting for 12.78 percent of the country's total population, compared with 143 million at present.
China cannot rely on the birth of more children to solve aging population issues, said Yu Xuejun, an official with the State Population and Family Planning Commission.
The best solutions are to boost economic development and build an effective social security system, especially in rural areas, Yu said.
(Xinhua News Agency September 29, 2006)