28 Dec 2013

China revises one-child policy

9:45 pm on 28 December 2013

China has formally approved legislation easing its one-child policy.

The state news agency Xinhua reports that 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 and needed formal legislative approval to be put into effect.

China introduced its one-child policy at the end of the 1970s to curb rapid population growth, but correspondents say the policy has become increasingly unpopular.

They say the country's leaders fear the country's ageing population will both reduce the labour pool and worsen elderly care issues. By 2050, more than a quarter of the population will be over 65.

The one-child policy has mostly been strictly enforced, although some exceptions already exist, including for ethnic minorities.