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Last Updated: Tuesday March 08 2005 17:17 GMT

China's one child policy

Li Wei
Loads of kids in Britain find their brothers or sisters a bit of a pain.

But 13-year-old Li Wei can't have any siblings, because the Chinese government won't let people there have more than one child.

The population of China is 1.3 billion, and grows by 10 million every year - which puts a huge strain on its environment, economy and society.

So 25 years ago, the government decided to limit families to one baby - which makes Li Wei unhappy.

"I'd love to have a brother or sister," she says. "When I'm at home it's boring just having adults to talk to."

She also reckons being an only child is difficult.

China's 1.3 billionth baby, born in January 2005
China's 1.3 billionth baby, born in January 2005
"Parents are pinning all their hopes on one child. In the past, the pressure was off because you had brothers and sisters. It's all different now."

There are other problems with the one child policy.

Parents want sons over daughters now, because men can earn more than women in China.

Sons also don't leave the family when they get married, and usually look after their parents when they get old.

Because of this, some families chose to get rid of the baby if it's a daughter.

But the government do say the population is stabilising, and in a few years they might let people have more than one child.

But until then, children like Li Wei will have to put up with having no brothers or sisters.

China week




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