BEIJING — A Chinese government think tank is urging the country's leaders to start phasing out its one-child policy immediately and allow two children for every family by 2015, a daring proposal to do away with the unpopular policy.
Some demographers see the timeline put forward by the China Development Research Foundation as a bold move by the body close to the central leadership. Others warn that the gradual approach, if implemented, would still be insufficient to help correct the problems that China's strict birth limits have created.
Xie Meng, a press affairs official with the foundation, said the final version of the report will be released "in a week or two." But Chinese state media have been given advance copies. The official Xinhua News Agency said the foundation recommends a two-child policy in some provinces from this year and a nationwide two-child policy by 2015. It proposes all birth limits be dropped by 2020, Xinhua reported.
"China has paid a huge political and social cost for the policy, as it has resulted in social conflict, high administrative costs and led indirectly to a long-term gender imbalance at birth," Xinhua said, citing the report.
It remains unclear whether Chinese leaders are ready to take up the recommendations. China's National Population and Family Planning Commission had no immediate comment on the report Wednesday.
Cai Yong, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, said the report holds extra weight because the think tank is under the State Council, China's Cabinet. He said he found it remarkable that state-backed demographers were willing to publicly propose such a detailed schedule and plan on how to get rid of China's birth limits. "That tells us at least that policy change is inevitable, it's coming," said Cai.