BEIJING (AP) _ China's population, already the world's largest for a single country, will keep growing until hitting 1.6 billion people in about 2050, Chinese state media reported Tuesday.

Officials holding a four-day meeting on population growth have announced that China will not change its family planning policy restricting most urban families to one child. Many rural areas allow for two children, particularly if the first is a girl.

China will add 20 million babies on average each year through 2000. The birth rate is declining, but the population continues to grow because of the large number of people who are of child-bearing age.

The family planning policy, begun in the late 1970s, has succeeded in slowing the growth rate. But the policy is unpopular in rural areas and has been a source of tension between local officials and farmers.

The desire to have more children than the government allows is the biggest problem in controlling population growth, the China Economic Times quoted Liu Hanbin, vice director of the State Family Planning Commission, as telling a recent meeting of the government's top advisory group.