Chinese netizens hail relaxation of one-child policy
Chinese internet users have mostly welcomed Beijing's decision to relax its one-child policy, though some have complained that the policy shift is too little, too late.
State media's announcement that families will be allowed two children if one parent is an only child triggered immense public interest and soon became one of the top trending topics on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging site.
Weibo user Shophiecho said he was "welling up", while Daddy2010 exclaimed: "This is the happiest news I have seen this year!"
Some have decided to put Beijing's new thinking into practice right away.
"To implement the leadership's new policy, we will get down to work tonight and secure a second baby," said Hevi2011.
Many would-be parents who are only children without siblings are relieved that their children will not have to endure the kind of loneliness they experienced.
"The next generation is saved from the suffering I went through as a lonely single child," said Backstage Monitor.
Allowing more people to have two children also means parents can get better care when they grow old, because "an only child is not just too lonely but also won't be able to take care of his parents in old age," as Stockholder commented.
Some netizens are already predicting a baby boom.
"Will next year, the Year of the Horse, see a peak of childbirth?" asked Yaxin.
But rising childcare costs in Chinese cities mean that many potential beneficiaries of the new policy will not be able to take advantage of it.
"I cannot even afford to raise one. How can I have another one?" said Little House.
Though most online comments have been positive about the new policy, some netizens lamented that the change has come too late for them.
Mxe, an apparent victim of China's draconian birth control measures, complained: "If this had been implemented earlier, I would not have lost my job."
Many people who would have wanted a second baby can no longer have one as they have passed their childbearing age.
"I've turned 44, and now you are telling me I can have a second baby," said Aoe518.
Some commentators suggested that the policy shift has come too late not just for individual families but also for the country as a whole.
Weibo user Unstoppable Future found the change "disappointing", saying: "Our reform and development needs a lot of manpower! China's shrinking workforce is already seriously affecting its GDP!"
Quite a few netizens blamed the slow pace of change on the government department in charge of China's family planning policy, which has allegedly insisted on maintaining the tight restrictions not for the benefit of the country but for its own selfish departmental interests.
"The Family Planning Commission has hijacked the state," commented Weibo user Haizhou.
In fact, the National Population and Family Planning Commission was merged into the Ministry of Health in March this year to form a new body called the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
But to some internet users, as long as the words "family planning" are still included in the title of the new body, its widely resented predecessor still exists.
"Disband the Family Planning Commission!" shouted user Big Dream VIP.
The sentiment was echoed by Zhou Fengtao, who asked, "Can't you completely liberalise childbirths and give the rights back to the people!"