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China To Relax One-Child Policy For Some Families

“China will ease family planning restrictions nationwide, the government said on Friday, allowing millions of families to have two children in the country’s most significant liberalization of its strict one-child policy in about three decades,” Reuters reports (Sui-Lee/Li, 11/15). “The new change says that if either parent is an only child, the couple may have a second child,” according to the Washington Post’s “WorldViews” blog, which lists current exceptions to the rule (Fisher, 11/16). “Previously, the one-child policy allowed couples where both parents were only children to have a second child,” Al Jazeera America notes (Hayoun, 11/15). The new policy was “announced Friday as part of a blueprint for economic and social reforms drawn up by the Communist Party leadership,” the Wall Street Journal reports (Burkitt, 11/17). “The plan … won’t trigger a surge in births in the short term as relatively few couples fulfill the criterion, Wang Peian, deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said in a statement on the government website [Saturday],” Bloomberg News writes (11/16).

“The one-child policy, though applauded by many for slowing down China’s population growth, has been widely criticized for resulting in forced abortions and hefty fines that are sometimes used to enforce it,” CNN reports (Castillo, 11/16). According to the New York Times, “The Chinese government’s decision to relax a decades-old one-child limit on couples has already encountered two problems likely to test dozens of social and economic changes promised by President Xi Jinping — vagaries about implementation and magnified public expectations of even bigger changes ahead” (Buckley/Zuo, 11/17). However, “China is not considering a broad relaxation of its strict one-child policy despite an easing of existing rules since it would be too disruptive, the health ministry said on Saturday,” Reuters reports in a separate article (Blanchard, 11/15).