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CHINA

China to abolish one-child policy

Restrictions in place since late 1970s were eased in 2013 but failed to meet expectations

Chinese authorities visiting a Beijing hospital in 2012.
Chinese authorities visiting a Beijing hospital in 2012. Xinhua Chen Shugen

China is to abolish its one-child policy, the official news agency Xinhua quoted the government as saying.

All couples who so wish may have two children, the Chinese Communist Party said in a communique issued after a leadership meeting in Beijing.

The 205 members of the party's Central Committee and their 170 substitutes had gathered for four days inside a hotel in western Beijing to work out the country’s next five-year development plan for 2016-2020.

China had already partially eased its one-child rule in 2013, when it allowed couples to have two kids if one of the spouses was an only child.

But by mid-2015, only 1.5 million out of 11 million eligible couples had applied for permission, a figure that fell far below authorities’ expectations.

The child-bearing restrictions were approved in 1976 and have since prevented nearly 400 million births, according to expert estimates.