China finally eases its one-child policy over concerns of slowing economic growth

  • The Chinese government says the one-child policy eased poverty
  • However, the strict measures led to abortions and sterilisations

By Peter Simpson


China is to relax its controversial one-child policy because of concerns over slowing economic growth.

Couples will be allowed to have two  children if one parent is an only child, the state news agency Xinhua reported.

The policy was introduced in the late 1970s  to control the huge population, now the world’s largest at 1.4billion.

Exceptions already exist. Some cities allow a second child if both parents are only children, and rural families can also try for a second if their first born is a girl. Couples who flout the rules face hefty fines, seizure of their property and loss of their jobs. Long-term: China's one-child policy has been in place for decades

Long-term: China's one-child policy has been in place for decades

But many well-off families in the booming cities are willing to pay fines and the authorities have been known to turn a blind eye.

Although the deeply unpopular law - often brutally enforced through forced abortions - was effective at slowing an unsustainable birth rate, it has led to a shortage of working-age people who can care for and fund the ageing population.


Communist leaders fear this imbalance could spark widespread social unrest and threaten the party’s  64-year grip on power.

The policy sparked a rise in infanticide of baby girls and illegal abortions of female foetuses because Chinese families want male heirs. It has also led to a huge gender imbalance with far more men than women.

Strict: China's one-child policy currently limits most urban couples to one child

Strict: China's one-child policy currently limits most urban couples to one child

Xinhua reported: ‘The birth policy will be adjusted and improved step by step to promote long-term balanced development of the population in China.’

Professor Steve Tsang, from the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at Nottingham University, said: ‘This move is primarily to deal with the demographic deficit, which has huge economic implications, particularly over growth and stability.’

Other major reforms announced by China include abolishing labour camps to ‘improve human rights and judicial practices’.

It is largely for petty offenders, but corrupt officials who want to punish whistleblowers and those who try to complain about them to higher authorities abuse the system.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

I was there 10 years ago and it was severely overpopluated already. Now those who were an only child will be linked with those who wernt. This equates to millions more living in poverty and a further increase in population from 1.3 billion. I thought the one child policy would have been maintained for at least the next 100 years with India following suit.

Click to rate

Some good news i guess ...but is it a little too late ?

Click to rate

These are very small steps being taken by one of the most monstrously repressive and corrupt regimes in the world. The democratic nations needs to force larger and more sweeping changes by controlled use of trade restrictions and sanctions. Stop funding these gangsters by buying Chinese goods!

Click to rate

If you're going to have a one-child policy, you can't make abortion illegal. Ridiculous.

Click to rate

Governments shouldn't be allowed this much control. It's sad that children don't have aunts and uncles, also it's women who have given birth a few times that can better advise first time mothers.

Click to rate

That's fine but the country is already full, so where will they live, in burrows under ground?

Click to rate

A few more contries could help themselves by adopting Chinas one child policey.

Click to rate

This is not a good idea. Global warming and there are already a billion Chinese. The air in China is really bad already, adding more people will only make it worse.

Click to rate

We have a lot in common with China, both our Governments are unelected unaccountable Communist Dictatorships, not not our 'pretend' one at Westminster and Downing St, our REAL Government....the EU 'Commission'.

Click to rate

This is wonderful news!

Click to rate

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now