China eases one-child policy; abolishes labor camps used on house church christians

one childBy Anugrah Kumar

China’s parliament on Saturday (Dec. 28) formally adopted resolutions, easing the country’s decades-old one-child policy and also abolishing its controversial labor camp system which was used against house church Christians among others, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The two resolutions, which were part of a sweeping range of reforms announced by the ruling Chinese Communist Party last month, were adopted on Saturday at the bimonthly session of the National People’s Congress’ Standing Committee, or China’s largely rubber-stamp parliament.

Under the new policy concerning the birth control rules, couples will be allowed to have two children if either parent is an only child. Provincial congresses and their standing committees have been asked to make their own calls on implementation of the new policy.

China established the one-child policy in the late 1970s to check the nation’s population growth. It allowed families with neither parent having siblings to have two children. It is estimated that the policy averted 200 million births between 1979 and 2009.

The policy has been controversial because of the manner in which it has been implemented, resulting in forced abortions, female infanticide, and underreporting of female births. Chinese families have traditionally preferred to have male children.