China has denied that it is studying the abandonment of its decades-old one-child policy, local media reported on Sunday, days after an official said the country was considering incremental changes.
In an article headlined "News of abandoning the one-child policy is inconsistent with the facts", the Beijing News said China, the world's most populous nation, was sticking to its controversial system of family planning.
"This report is incorrect, its content is not verified," the newspaper cited the National Population and Family Planning Commission's publicity and education department as saying.
It was referring to remarks last week by Zhao Baige, vice minister of the commission, that China could slowly change its one-child policy and that family planning had "become a big issue among decision makers".
Since the late 1970s, China has restricted most families to one child, though rules vary and families in the countryside are typically allowed to have a second child if the first is a girl, because of a traditional preference for boys.
China says the policies have prevented several hundred million births.
But experts have warned of looming problems from an ageing population and a growing gender imbalance stemming from aborted or abandoned baby girls.
Many also say the increasing mobility of China's population make family planning policies ever more difficult to enforce.
But the Beijing News report, which was also carried by the Yangcheng Evening News, a state-run newspaper in the southern province of Guangdong, poured cold water on the prospects for change.
"China will continue to pursue even better its population and family planning policy," the reports said. (Reuters)
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