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Two-Child Policy Highlighted at the NPC Session
   2016-03-06 18:43:42    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Niu Honglin

File photo of newborn infants on the nursery bed in a district hospital in the city of Xiangyang, central China's Hubei province. [Photo: CFP]

The newly-adopted two-child policy has also been a highly-discussed topic among the lawmakers gathered in Beijing.

 

Song Qiuxia is a white-collar worker living in Guangdong province. She and her husband just had their little girl last year, and she is not enthusiastic about the new policy.

"I won't even consider having a second child! Raising a kid can be very expensive. For example, the kindergarten fees of just one semester can cost me an entire month's salary."

Song is not the only one.

According to a survey done by the Population Research Institute of Guangdong, only some 34% of 12,000 families would choose to have a second child.

The reasons include high costs, a lack of babysitters, as well as a shortage of education and medical resources.

These reasons are also the common worries of those who plan to have or already have a second child.

Li Kun is a case in point. She wishes the government can help with two things in particular, now that she is pregnant for the second time.

"The first one is a longer maternity leave. That way, kids can enjoy their mom's company for a longer period of time. The second one is early childhood education. It is really hard to find a decent kindergarten nowadays. I experienced the problem firsthand when I was looking for one for my first child. If there are more formal and reliable nurseries and kindergartens around when my second child arrives, that'd be ideal."

The government has certainly got the message loud and clear.

In fact, how to better implement the two-child policy is one of the key topics at this year's annual session of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

Premier Li Keqiang shed some light on the issue when he delivered the annual government work report at the opening ceremony of the NPC session.

"We will improve the supporting policies to complement the decision to allow all couples to have two kids. We will encourage the development of kindergartens open to all children."
The open-to-all kindergarten is a new concept related to early childhood education. NPC Deputy Wang Meixiang further explains.

"When the tuition fees of private kindergartens are too high, it's easy to see the significance of open-to-all kindergartens, as they can help people save money in kindergarten fees. Therefore, it is very important for the government to provide subsidies to develop this kind of kindergartens."

However, supporting policies alone are far from enough. Zheng Zhenzhen, researcher at the Institute of Population and Labor Economics of Chinese Academy of Social Science, says first and foremost, it is about changing the mindset.

"We have to change the traditional belief that it is better for one couple to have only one child. This outdated mindset would destroy our population's sustainable development in the long run. Although on the policy level, we have said goodbye to family planning, the rooted belief cannot be changed overnight. I wish that more couples will try having a second child in the future."

Changing the mindset may be difficult, but it is definitely achievable. Li Kun, for instance, did not want to have a second child initially.

"I changed my mind when I noticed my kid's need to have a sibling. That is something we parents cannot provide. Also, the two-child policy has been officially implemented. I would love to give it a go."

Li Kun predicts that more couples in China will follow suit and take advantage of the new policy.

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