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China to advocate ‘one couple, two children’ policy

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Beijing: Chinese lawmakers consider amending the family planning law to allow couples to have two children amid efforts to counter shrinkage of the workforce and an ageing population.

“The State advocates that one couple can give birth to two children,” Xinhua cited a draft amendment submitted for review at the bi-monthly session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee which opened on Monday.

The draft came after the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee decided in October to give the go ahead for the universal two-child rule, which will replace the decades-long “one couple, one child” policy.

Li Bin, head of National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), said the CPC’s decision was made to adapt to the transition of China’s population from young to old currently underway.

In order to implement the decision, the top legislature must amend the family planning law which took effect in 2002.

Under the current law, citizens who marry late and delay childbearing may be entitled to longer nuptial and maternity leaves. Couples who volunteer to have only one child in their lifetime enjoy rewards.

The articles were deleted in the draft, implying the new law will likely take effect on January 1, 2016.

The amendment will not affect the welfare enjoyed by the elderly whose family abides by the current family planning law, parents who have only one child and parents whose only child is disabled or deceased.

While clarifying the draft, Li said people who have been receiving rewards and assistance before the law was amended will continue to receive it afterwards.

The draft also allows couples of a reproductive age to make their own choice whether to adopt contraceptive methods. It no longer stipulates that couples shall accept technical services and guidance for family planning.

Medical institutes will also be able to employ assisted reproductive technology after being authorised based on their personnel, facilities and ethical management, according to the draft.

The trade of sperm, ovum and embryo are forbidden. Surrogate pregnancy in any form is not allowed. Those involved in such actions would receive punishment ranging from warnings and fines to criminal penalties, according to the draft.

China’s family planning policy was first introduced in the 1970s to rein in the surging population.

Since its implementation, the policy has resulted in an estimated reduction of some 400 million people in China, but it was also blamed for generating a number of social problems, mainly a decreasing labour force and an ageing population.

In 2013, China relaxed its birth rules, allowing couples to qualify for a second birth if one of the partners was an only child.

The one-child policy was abandoned at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee held in October this year.

The change of policy is intended to balance population development and address the challenge of an ageing population, according to a communique issued after the key meeting.

Experts believe that being able to have two children will benefit about 100 million families around the country.

The change in policy is expected to mean over 30 million more people in the labour force by 2050 and a decrease of two percentage points in the share of elderly of the Chinese population, said Wang Peian, deputy head of the NHFPC, in a press conference held in November.

The total population will slightly increase, with its peak reached at 1.45 billion in 2029, Wang said.

The adopting of the two-child policy is also expected to boost China’s economic growth rate by about 0.5 percent, he said.(IANS)

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Amazon Plans to Close its Domestic Marketplace in China by Mid-July

Amazon shoppers in China will no longer be able to buy goods from third-party merchants in the country, but they still will be able to order from the United States, Britain, Denmark and Japan via the firm’s global store

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FILE - Amazon plans to close its domestic marketplace in China to focus on more lucrative businesses there. VOA

Amazon.com Inc. plans to close its domestic marketplace in China by mid-July, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, focusing efforts on more lucrative businesses selling overseas goods and cloud services in the world’s most populous nation.

Amazon shoppers in China will no longer be able to buy goods from third-party merchants in the country, but they still will be able to order from the United States, Britain, Denmark and Japan via the firm’s global store. Amazon expects to close fulfillment centers and wind down support for domestic-selling merchants in China in the next 90 days, one of the people said.

Home-grown e-commerce

The move underscores how entrenched, home-grown e-commerce rivals have made it difficult for Amazon’s marketplace to gain a foothold. Consumer insights firm iResearch Global said Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Tmall marketplace and JD.com Inc. controlled 81.9 percent of the Chinese market last year.

“They’re pulling out because it’s not profitable and not growing,” said analyst Michael Pachter at Wedbush Securities. Ker Zheng, marketing specialist at Shenzhen-based e-commerce consultancy Azoya, said Amazon had no major competitive advantage in China over its domestic rivals.

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FILE – A logo of JD.com is seen on a helmet of a delivery man in Beijing, June 16, 2014. VOA

Unless someone is searching for a very specific imported good that can’t be found elsewhere, “there’s no reason for a consumer to pick Amazon because they’re not going to be able to ship things as fast as Tmall or JD,” he said.

Amazon’s customers in China will still be able to purchase the firm’s Kindle e-readers and online content, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing unit that sells data storage and computing power to enterprises, will remain as well.

The U.S.-listed shares of Alibaba and JD.com rose 1% Wednesday after Reuters first reported the move, before paring gains later in the day. Amazon’s shares closed flat.

US retreat, e-commerce showdown

The withdrawal of the world’s largest online retailer — founded by the world’s richest person — comes amid a broader e-commerce slowdown in China. Alibaba in January reported its lowest quarterly earnings growth since 2016, while JD.com is responding to the changing business environment with staff cuts.

 

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FILE – A worker removes an advertisement billboard of Indian online marketplace Flipkart, installed along the roadside in Mumbai, India, Oct. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is concentrating on India and its competition, Flipkart. VOA

It also follows the Chinese e-commerce retreat of other big-name Western retailers. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. sold its Chinese online shopping platform to JD.com in 2016 in return for a stake in JD.com to focus on its bricks-and-mortar stores.

Similarly, the country appears to factor less in the global aspirations of fellow U.S. tech majors Netflix Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Pachter said.

ALSO READ: Microsoft, Amazon in Race For $10bn Pentagon Project

Amazon bought Chinese online shopping website Joyo.com in 2004 for $75 million, rebranding the business in 2011 as Amazon China. But in a sign of Tmall’s dominance, Amazon nevertheless opened an online store on the Alibaba site in 2015.

The firm is still expanding aggressively in other countries, notably India, where it is contending with local rival Flipkart. (VOA)