China allows couples to have three children: State media
BEIJING: China has relaxed its family planning policy to allow couples to have a maximum of three childrens after a census showed its population is rapidly ageing, state media Xinhua reported on Monday.
For almost 40 years, China coerced its controversial "one-child policy" -- one of the strictest family planning regulations worldwide -- which was lifted in 2016 due to widespread concerns over an ageing workforce and economic stagnation in the country.
"To actively respond to the ageing of the population ... a couple can have three children now," Xinhua said, citing a Monday meeting of China's elite Politburo leadership committee hoisted by President Xi Jinping. Despite government continuous efforts to encourage childbirths, China's annual births have continued to descend rapidly to a record low of 12 million in 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics said last month.
China's fertility rate stands at 1.3 which is below the level needed to maintain a stable population, the bureau revealed.
The once-in-a-decade 2020 census results published last month also manifested that China's population grew at its slowest rate since the 1960s, reaching 1.41 billion.
It comes alongside a sharp decline in the number of working-age people, once again raising fears of a looming demographic crisis.
China's gender balance has also been skewed by decades of the one-child policy, and a traditional social preferences for boys which gave rise to a generation of sex-selective abortions and abandoned baby girls.