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China Ends One-Child Policy, Allowing Families Two Children

China

Driven by fears that an aging population could jeopardize China’s economic ascent, the Communist Party leadership ended its decades-old “one child” policy, announcing that all married couples would be allowed to have two children.

The decision was a dramatic step away from a core Communist Party position that Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese leader who imposed the policy in the late 1970s, once said was needed to ensure that “the fruits of economic growth are not devoured by population growth.”

For China’s leaders, the controls were a triumphant demonstration of the party’s capacity to reshape even the most intimate dimensions of citizens’ lives. But they bred intense resentment over the brutal intrusions involved, including forced abortions and crippling fines, especially in the countryside.

Announcement was the highlight of a party meeting at which President Xi Jinping sought to display his control over a flagging economy after a jittery summer of tepid indicators, deepening skepticism about official data and a tumultuous slide in the stock market.

Abolishing the one-child policy would “increase labor supply and ease pressures from an aging population,” the National Health and Family Planning Commission, which enforces the policy, said in a statement issued after the party meeting. “This will benefit sustained and healthy economic development,” the commission said.