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China's population to grow 45 million by 2020: plan
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) March 5, 2016

Facts about China's 2016-2020 growth plan
Beijing (AFP) March 5, 2016 - China on Saturday published the draft of its 13th Five-Year Plan, a blueprint for economic and social development over the 2016-2020 period.

Such plans are a legacy of China's command economy era but still guide policymakers, and the 148-page document is due to be approved by the ongoing National People's Congress, the country's Communist-controlled parliament.

Here are some main targets listed in the draft plan.

1. To grow China's economy, the world's second-largest, by an average of at least 6.5 percent a year over the period. Gross domestic product (GDP) to go from 67.7 trillion yuan ($10.4 trillion) last year to more than 92.7 trillion yuan in 2020.

2. The service sector to account for 56 percent of GDP by 2020, up from 50.5 percent in 2015.

3. To cap total energy consumption under five billion tonnes equivalent of coal by 2020, compared with 4.3 billion tonnes equivalent of coal last year.

4. To cut energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 15 percent and 18 percent respectively from 2015 levels by 2020.

5. City air quality to be rated "good" or better at least 80 percent of the time by 2020, up from 76.7 percent in 2015.

6. To raise installed nuclear power capacity to 58 gigawatts by 2020, when another 30 gigawatts are scheduled to be under construction. Currently, 28.3 gigawatts are installed, with 26.7 under construction.

7. To expand the high-speed railway network to 30,000 kilometres (around 18,600 miles) by 2020, from 19,000 kilometres last year, and build at least 50 new civilian airports.

8. To boost per capita disposable income by 6.5 percent or higher every year. The figure grew by 7.4 percent in 2015.

9. To create a total of 50 million jobs in urban areas over the five years.

10. Permanent urban residents to make up 60 percent of China's total population by 2020, up from 56.1 percent last year. The proportion of people with urban "hukou", or household registration, is to reach 45 percent of the total population.

China expects its population to rise by around 45 million -- almost the number of people in Spain -- in the next five years, it said Saturday, as it confronts a growing demographic crisis in the wake of the one-child policy.

A draft five-year plan published at the opening of the National People's Congress, the country's Communist-controlled parliament, projected that the population -- long the world's largest -- would grow to "around 1.42 billion" by 2020.

That contrasted with the previous document, issued in 2011 when population controls limiting most couples to a single offspring were still in force, which pledged to restrict the population to "within 1.39 billion" by last year.

Authorities insist that the family planning rules have been a key contributor to the country's economic boom, but they were often brutally enforced and have left China with a shrinking workforce and severe gender imbalances.

The government this year loosened the hugely controversial one-child policy to allow all couples to have two children. But many parents say they are reluctant to have more because of the cost.

"We will adhere to the basic national strategy of family planning and comprehensively implement the policy of allowing each couple to have two children," said the draft five-year plan, which is due to be approved during the NPC.

Its expectations for 2020 would represent a significant growth acceleration from the last five years, during which China's population rose by 33 million.

The total stood at 1.37 billion people at the end of 2015 -- when total births fell by 320,000 -- official data showed.

China's working-age population, which it defines as 15-59, has been in decline since 2012 while the number of people above 60 is ballooning, placing enormous pressure on the country's pension system.

The country will raise its retirement age to address the issue, the plan said, "gradually postponing" it in order "to comprehensively deal with the falling working-age population".

It also pledged to address "the problem of skewed gender ratio at birth" -- a result of sex-selective abortions or infanticide targeting girls because of centuries-old social preferences for boys.

China started implementing the one-child policy in the late 1970s and the average ratio of boys to girls at birth was 114.7 in the 1980-2014 period, state media have reported previously, leaving more than 30 million Chinese men at the risk of ending up without a wife.

The ratio still stood at 113.51 last year, the National Bureau of Statistics said in January.

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