China’s top legislature has formally adopted a resolution easing the country’s one-child policy, the state news agency Xinhua reports. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed a resolution allowing couples to have two children if either parent is an only child. A proposal to abolish re-education through labour camps was also approved. The changes in policy were announced following a meeting of top Communist Party officials in November.
The reforms, which came at the end of a six-day meeting of the congress, have already been tested in parts of the country. They needed formal legislative approval to be put into effect. It is expected that reforms will be rolled out gradually and incrementally around the country, with provincial authorities entrusted to make their own decisions on implementation according to the local demographic situation.
Factors other than the one-child policy, such as a lack of social security support, have also encouraged couples to limit their offspring. China is now believed to have a birth rate of just over 1.5 children per woman of child-bearing age – which is, in fact, higher than many of its regional neighbours, including Japan and South Korea. Niger has the world’s highest birth rate per woman, with over seven, India has 2.55 and the US has 2.06.