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China 'may revamp one-child rule'

29 February 08 07:57 GMT

China is considering scrapping its controversial one-child policy after three decades, a senior official says.

Family planning chief Zhao Baige told reporters she wanted an "incremental" change in the policy.

But there are not yet any specific proposals or a timetable for change, and she said some form of population control would remain in place.

Families in China's cities are restricted to one child, and those in rural areas to two children.

But the BBC's Dan Griffiths in Beijing says many wealthy Chinese are having large families and choosing to pay the standard fines for having more than one child.

Ms Zhao said it was common practice for some families in cities to have two or even three children.

And she expressed concern that China faces a huge disparity in numbers of females to males, as families in rural provinces continue to favour boys over girls.

"[In Henan there are] nearly 100 million people, but strongly influenced by the classical way, they want a son, and they are already very fragile environmentally," Reuters quoted her as saying.

From time to time China has considered changes to its one child policy but has always backed off, fearing a massive spike in population growth.

Strict family-planning controls were introduced during the 1970s to combat China's spiralling population.

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