China's Infamous One-Child Policy to Change

And a controversial detention policy will end

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 15, 2013 6:49 AM CST | Updated Nov 15, 2013 7:49 AM CST

(Newser) – "Loosen," "ease" and "relax": Those are the verbs being used to describe what's happening to China's one-child policy. According to the official Xinhua news agency, as long as one parent in a couple is an only child, that couple will now be allowed to have two children, the Wall Street Journal reports. The current policy allows couples in some cities to have a second child if both parents are only children, and lets rural families have two kids if the first is a girl, explains the BBC. That 30-year-old policy has come under fire recently, BusinessWeek reports, as critics say it has led to an aging population and decreasing workforce (which do no favors to China economically), and an uneven gender ratio—not to mention citizens just don't like it.

Earlier this week, an official promised the government would "fine-tune" the policy, but warned that the country needed to maintain a "low birth rate." The current policy has led to an average of 1.6 children per family—2.1 children per family generally accepted as the figure needed to maintain a steady population, explains BusinessWeek. Another change announced today: China will end a controversial "re-education through labor" policy that allowed people to be detained in labor camps for up to four years without a trial.

In this Oct. 15, 2008 file photo, a baby drinks milk from a bottle at home in Yongan, in eastern China's Shandong province.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
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