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China abandons one-child policy

More than 30 years after China imposed its controversial “one-child” policy, it would be scrapped.

China's ruling Communist Party decided that all couples would now be allowed to have two kids.

The party made the announcement in a statement.

The restrictions were introduced in 1979 to limit the number of children Chinese couples can have in an attempt to reduce the burden on resources amid the country's rapidly expanding population.

But in recent years China has gradually relaxed the policy as the country has experienced three decades of economic growth, and as it struggles with an aging population.

Opponents say it has also created a demographic “timebomb”, with China’s 1.3 billion-strong population ageing rapidly, and the country’s labor pool shrinking.

The UN estimates that by 2050 China will have nearly 440 million over-60s. Meanwhile, the working-age population – those aged between 15 and 59 – fell by 3.71 million last year, a trend that is expected to continue.

For months there has been speculation that Beijing was preparing to abandon the highly controversial family planning rule, which was introduced by Communist leaders in 1980 amid fears of a catastrophic population explosion.

The government credits it with preventing 400 million births, but the human cost has been immense, with forced sterilizations and abortions, infanticide, and a dramatic gender imbalance that means millions of men will never find female partners.

Local officials predict the policy would be phased out by the end of this year.

October 30, 2015

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