China to Loosen Its One-Child Policy

15.11.2013 13:59

HONG KONG — The Chinese
government will ease its one-child
family size restrictions and abolish re-
education through labor camps,
significantly curtailing two policies
that for decades have defined the state’s
power to control citizens’ lives, the
Communist Party said on Friday.
The changes were announced in a
party decision that also laid out
ambitious proposals to restructure the
economy by encouraging greater
private participation in finance,
encouraging market competition in key
economic sectors and promising
farmers better property protection and
compensation for confiscated land.
Senior party officials, led by President
Xi Jinping, endorsed the raft of 60
reform proposals at a four-day Central
Committee conference that ended
Tuesday, but the decision was released
days later.
For months, economists and party
analysts have speculated about the
economic shifts that could be
introduced by the meeting. But the
planned changes to population policy
and punishment – two areas where
reforms have been debated, and
delayed, for years – gave the decision
significance well beyond the economy.
For decades, most urban couples have
been restricted to having one child.
That has been changing slowly in some
cities, which have had rules on the
books that couples can have two
children if both parents are single
children. That policy will be further
“Launch implementation of a policy
that when the husband or wife is a
single child, the couple may have two
children,” said the decision, which was
released by the official news agency,
Xinhua. “Steadily adjust and improve
family planning policies.”
The party leaders confirmed an
announcement made earlier this year,
and then abruptly retracted, that they
intend to abolish re-education through
labor, which since the 1950s has
empowered police authorities to
imprison people without any real
judicial review. Experts and officials
have debated whether to adjust or
abolish the system of camps since the
1980s. Now abolition is closer.
“Abolish the system of re-education
through labor,” said the decision, which
proposed expanding community
correction to partly replace the system.
The document gives no date for
achieving that, or for introducing the
changes to family planning policy.
But the bulk of the Central Committee
decision dwelt on economic changes
intended to rejuvenate growth by
encouraging private investment, more
efficient use of bank capital and
encouraging farmers to lease their land
into larger, more viable holdings.
“Reform of the economic system is the
focal point of comprehensively
deepening reform,” said the decision.
“The core issue is properly handling the
relationship between the government
and the market.”