China To Ease One-Child Policy, End Labor Camps

China will see two major changes in a reform package that comes from the chinaChinese Communist Party which will allow some couples to have two children and also abolish controversial labor camps.

The policy on child-rearing is loosened to a small degree, but doesn’t necessarily give complete control or freedom to families to make their own decisions on reproduction and family planning. It’s a step, though. The new regulations will allow couples in which at least one parent is an only child to have two offspring

China’s current policy limits most urban couples to one child and allows two children for rural families if their first-born is a girl. It also allows two children for parents  who themselves are only children.

The Chinese government credits the one-child policy that was introduced over 30 years ago with preventing hundreds of millions of births and aiding in lifting families out of poverty. But the strict restrictions have forced people to resort to illegal abortions, sterilizations, social conflict and an imbalance of a preference for boys instead of girls and even infanticide as Chinese citizens clings to the desire to have a boy child. Couples who ignore the rules face heavy fines, seizure of their property and face losing their jobs. The new policy on childrearing is estimated to give about 10 million couples the opportunity to have a second child.

The other element, The labor camp — or “re-education through labor” — system was established to punish early opposition of the Communist Party but now is used by local officials to deal with people challenging their authority on issues including land rights and corruption.

The reforms also promise to reduce land confiscations, which are a major grievance in the Chinese countryside, as well as reduce the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty.

The new changes were detailed in a key policy document released by the official Xinhua News Agency following a four-day meeting of party leaders. The document also seeks to map out China’s economic policy for coming years.

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