China finally ends their one child policy

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By The BBC

Couples will now be allowed to have two children, it said, citing a statement from the Communist Party.

The controversial policy was introduced nationally in 1979, to slow the population growth rate.

It is estimated to have prevented about 400 million births. However concerns at China’s ageing population led to pressure for change.

Couples who violated the one-child policy faced a variety of punishments, from fines and the loss of employment to forced abortions.

Over time, the policy has been relaxed in some provinces, as demographers and sociologists raised concerns about rising social costs and falling worker numbers.

The decision to allow families to have two children was designed “to improve the balanced development of population” and to deal with an aging population, according to the statement from the Community Party’s Central Committee carried by the official Xinhua News Agency (in Chinese) on Thursday.

Currently about 30% of China’s population is over the age of 50. The total population of the country is around 1.36 billion.

The Communist Party began formally relaxing national rules two years ago, allowing couples in which at least one of the pair is an only child to have a second child.

Correspondents say that despite the relaxation of the rules, many couples may opt to only have one child, as one-child families have become the social norm.

Critics say that even a two-child policy will not boost the birth rate enough, the BBC’s John Sudworth reports.

And for those women who want more than two children, nor will it end the state’s insistence on the right to control their fertility, he adds.

“As long as the quotas and system of surveillance remains, women still do not enjoy reproductive rights,” Maya Wang of Human Rights Watch told AFP.

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