China Introduces Three-Child Policy in Major Policy Shift

China has announced on May 31 that couples will now be allowed to have up to three children, a major shift from its existing two-child policy.

“Implementing the policy and its relevant supporting measures will help improve China’s population structure, actively respond to the aging population, and preserve the country’s human resource advantages,” state-run Xinhua News Agency reported, citing a meeting of top Communist Party officials hosted by President Xi Jinping.

The three-child policy comes after China, the most populous country in the world, reported earlier in May that it has experienced the slowest population growth since the early 1960s.

The once-in-a-decade census showed that the overall population of China increased by only 5.38% — around 1.4 billion — in the 10 years to 2020.

In late 2015, China announced the end of its decades-old one-child policy, coming into effect in 2016 to encourage more births and to steer away from a demographic crisis. But the high cost of raising children in Chinese cities has deterred many couples.

Human rights organization Amnesty International said that the new three-child policy was still a violation of sexual and reproductive rights.

“Governments have no business regulating how many children people have. Rather than ‘optimizing’ its birth policy, China should instead respect people’s life choices and end any invasive and punitive controls over people’s family planning decisions,” Amnesty International China Team Head Joshua Rosenzweig said in a statement.

“Raising the limit from two children to three would bring China no closer to meeting its human rights obligations,” Rosenzweig further stated.

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