The world’s most populous country will continue its strict family planning policy that permits, in general, only one child per couple living in urban areas, President Hu Jintao announced last week. The policy is controversial in many ways, but its most noticeable impact has been badly skewing the country’s gender ratio in favor of men. For every 100 girls born in China, there are 119 boys born. There had been speculation that the government in Beijing would take steps to relax the birth policy. Hu’s statements last week counterintuitively suggest, China watchers say, that party elders are actively evaluating the policy and possible changes may be in the offing. Chinese officials have credited the one-child policy, which was introduced as a temporary measure in 1980, with preventing 400 million additional births.
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