China Announces It Will Ease One-Child Policy and Abolish Labor Camps

The Communist Party of China plans to allow Chinese families to have more than one child.

A woman holds a baby as she walks along a road in Tangshan, in northern China's Hebei province on Nov. 15, 2013.
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After several days of discussions, the Communist Party of China has concluded its secretive Third Plenary Session with a number of notable announcements, including its decision to relax its decades-old one-child policy.

Chinese state media outlet Xinhuanet announced Friday, in the near future families where one parent is an only child, may be allowed to have two children. Ethnic minorities and rural dwellers were already excused from the one-child policy, but the effect of the announcement for families living in urban areas will is significant.

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A statement by the Communist Party said the one-child policy, which was established in the 70s to curb the rapid population growth, would be tailored and changed to stimulate a "long-term balanced development of the population in China."

Human rights groups have long criticized the law which has lead to many gender-based abortions, due to China's preference for males. The abortions have led to a gender imbalance, creating even more social problems within China. By 2020 China will have 24 million "leftover men" who will not be able to find a wife, because of the gender imbalance provoked by the one-child policy, BBC reports.

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The one-child policy has also invoked a heavy burden on the working class. Chinese culture expects the elderly to be cared for by younger relatives. So only children face the "4-2-1 phenomenon" where they must care for four grandparents and two parents. The new modification of the family planning law is expected help mitigate some of these issues.

Among the reforms the Third Plenary session also announced it would terminate its "re-education through labor" camps. The Labor camps were originally set up in the 1950s, designed to punish individuals who criticized the Communist Party. Millions in the camps are presumed to have died from overwork, suicide and severe conditions, CNN said. China also promised to reduce the number of crimes punishable by death.

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