From January 1 all Chinese couples will finally be free from the country’s infamous one-child policy, with legislation permitting the birth of a second child set to go into effect with the new year.
Xinhua reports that the decision was officially passed on Sunday, during last week’s bi-montly session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.
The Communist Party first announced the transformation of legislation in October. Prior to that the move was foreshadowed with a relaxation in policy at the start of last year for parents who were themselves only children.
“The state advocates that one couple shall be allowed to have two children,” declares the Law on Population and Family Planning, officially now.
It marks the end of the notorious one-child policy era that began in the 1970s to control population growth. Also now banished, we presume, are the heavy fines, forced abortions and sterilizations.
Some critics, however, remain unconvinced by the recent move. “Couples that have two children could still be subjected to coercive and intrusive forms of contraception, and even forced abortions — which amount to torture,” researcher William Nee remarked. “The state has no business regulating how many children people have.”
Prior research also shows a reluctance on the part of Chinese citizens to take advantage of the policy due to the expense of raising more than one child.
The one-child policy has wreaked havoc on China’s demographics, with some predicting that the country will have the most elderly population in the world within 15 years.