China’s ruling Communist Party has decided to abolish the country’s one-child policy and allow all couples to have two children, the official Xinhua News Agency said:
It cited a communique issued by the ruling Communist Party on Thursday after a four-day meeting in Beijing to chart the course of the nation over the next five years. China is “abandoning its decades-long one-child policy”, Xinhua reported. The restriction was introduced in 1980 as a way to curb the population and limit demands for water and other resources.
Roderic Wye, associate fellow at Chatham House’s Asia Programme, told Al Jazeera: “The importance is not so much democratic, but in the lifting of a highly restricted and coercive policy. “It’s going to be 20 years before it has a significant impact on the working population.” The controversial policy restricted most couples to only a single offspring, and for years authorities argued that it was a key contributor to China’s economic boom.
But after years of strict, sometimes brutal enforcement by a dedicated government commission, China’s population – the world’s largest – is now ageing rapidly, gender imbalances are severe, and its workforce is shrinking. The concerns led to limited reforms in 2013, including allowing a second child for some couples in urban areas, but relatively few have taken up the opportunity.