China's family planning policy combines government guidance with the wishes of the masses. The basic requirements of family planning are late marriages and late childbearing, so as to have fewer but healthier babies, especially one child per couple. But a flexible family planning policy is adopted for rural people and ethnic minorities; in rural areas, couples may have a second baby in exceptional cases, but must wait several years after the birth of the first child. In areas inhabited by minority peoples, each ethnic group may work out different regulations in accordance with its wish, population, natural resources, economy, culture and customs: In general a couple may have a second baby, or a third child in some places. As for ethnic minorities with extremely small populations, a couple may have as many children as they want.
Profound changes have taken place in the people's viewpoints on marriage, childbearing and the family. Late marriage, late childbearing and fewer but healthier babies are the accepted norms of most people in China. Now the people have a common understanding that there is no difference between a son or a daughter. It has become a custom to set up a small happy, harmonious family, and pursue a scientific and civilized life style. Meanwhile, family planning has helped Chinese women get rid of the burden of frequent childbearing and the heavy family burden after marriage, thus raising women's status and improving the health of both mothers and children.