Part of complete coverage on
China moves forward in bid to ease one-child policy
December 24, 2013 -- Updated 0501 GMT (1301 HKT)
- Couples will be allowed to have two children if one of the parents was an only child
- Previously both parents must be sole children to be eligible for a second child
- Revised policy expected to go into force in some provincial regions in first quarter of 2014
Hong Kong (CNN) -- China's plan to relax its controversial decades-long, one-child policy has taken a significant step forward, with the country's top legislative body poised to approve its implementation early next year.
The changes to the rules, first announced last month, will mean couples will be allowed to have two children if one of the parents was an only child, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. Currently, both parents must be sole children to be eligible for a second child.
According to Xinhua, The State Council, China's cabinet, submitted the bill on "adjusting and improving the family planning policy" to the bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) -- the country's most powerful decision-making body.
The revised family planning policy is expected to go into force in some provincial regions in the first quarter of 2014, according to Yang Wenzhuang of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, adding that health and family planning authorities at various levels are "conducting risk assessment for the policy."
Impact of China easing 'one child' policy
China eases one-child policy, why now?
The one-child policy, though applauded by many for slowing down China's rapid population growth, has been widely criticized for resulting in forced abortions and hefty fines that are sometimes used to enforce it.
Some critics say the law hurts China's elderly, who typically rely on their children for support in old age, and even constrains economic growth as the working age population begins to decline.
'Birth rate stable'
"It is the right time to make changes. The low birth rate is stable, the working population still large and the burden of supporting the elderly remains relatively light," Li Bin, minister in charge of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, was quoted by Xinhua as saying on Monday.
The State Council says authorities at regional level should amend family planning regulations after evaluating local demographics.
An increase in births is expected if the policy changes but will not seriously affect the food supply, public education, healthcare or employment, Li added.
According to Xinhua, China's food safety and public service schemes are designed to meet the needs of 1.43 billion people by 2020 and 1.5 billion in 2033. Even with the policy change, the total population will not exceed 1.38 billion in 2015, Li predicted.
CNN's Feng Ke contributed to this report.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 0518 GMT (1318 HKT)
A top retired general has confessed to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in President Xi Jinping's war on corruption.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
A group in China escapes from a stuck elevator thanks to one man and his trusty hammer. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1352 GMT (2152 HKT)
Facebook's founder says he taught himself Mandarin and tested his skills with students in China.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0133 GMT (0933 HKT)
China launched an experimental spacecraft that is scheduled to orbit the moon before returning to Earth.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
Full marks for ingenuity: This was a truly high-tech scam.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0526 GMT (1326 HKT)
The rationale behind Confucius Institutes -- an international chain of academic centers run by an arm of the Chinese government -- is understandable.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1511 GMT (2311 HKT)
Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G wants everyone to know that he's not a foreign agitator trying to defy the Chinese Communist Party.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
A smuggler in Dandong, a Chinese border town near North Korea, tells CNN about the underground trade with North Korean soldiers
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 0511 GMT (1311 HKT)
Yenn Wong got quite a surprise one morning earlier this month when she found out an exact copy of her Hong Kong restaurant had opened in China.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0315 GMT (1115 HKT)
When I first came across a "virtual lover" service on e-commerce site Taobao, China's version of Amazon, I thought it was hype.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
Each year Yi Jiefeng does what she can to stop China turning into a desert.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1454 GMT (2254 HKT)
As its relationship with the West worsen, Russia is pivoting east in an attempt to secure business with China.
October 8, 2014 -- Updated 0229 GMT (1029 HKT)
Aspiring Chinese comics performing in Shanghai's underground comedy scene hope to bring stand-up to the masses.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Liu Wen is one of the world's highest-paid models and the first Chinese face to crack the top five in Forbes' annual list of top earners.
October 3, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
Cunning wolf? Working class hero? Or bland Beijing loyalist? C.Y. Leung was a relative unknown when he came to power in 2012.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
App hopes to help those seeking a way out of China's overstrained public health system.
October 3, 2014 -- Updated 0020 GMT (0820 HKT)
Yards from pro-democracy protests, stands the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), China's armed forces.