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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 January, 2005, 11:36 GMT
China's population passes 1.3bn
Chinese medical workers deliver a baby boy, who was proclaimed as China's 1.3 billionth person, at the Beijing Hospital of Gynaecology and Obstetrics early 06 January 2005
The father said his child would be blessed
China's population has officially passed 1.3 billion citizens, with the birth of a baby boy early on Thursday.

The country's state-run media has been using the occasion to hail the merits of the government's one child policy.

Rights groups overseas have criticised the policy as coercive and draconian.

China's population is expected to increase by about 10 million a year, hitting a peak of 1.46 billion in the 2030s.

The newborn baby's overjoyed father was quoted as saying his son would be blessed his whole life.

But planners in the world's most populous country are not so happy.

One official was quoted in the China Daily as saying that 1.3 billion citizens would put great pressure on the economy, society, resources and the environment.

State media are boasting that the strict family planning policy meant the 1.3 billion mark was reached four years later than predicted.

But the paper admitted the one child policy had been badly applied in some places.

It did not give any details, though rights groups overseas accuse the authorities of forcing women to have abortions.

The traditional preference for boys has also led to female foetuses being aborted.

One hundred and twenty boys are now registered as born for every 100 girl babies.

Yet the newspaper said the one child policy should continue to be endorsed.

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