China on Monday announced a new relaxation to its family planning rules allowing couples in the country to have upto three children now, an increase from the two children allowed previously. The new measures were announced after the latest data in this month from the National Bureau of Statistic in Beijing showed that the annual births plummeted to historic low of 12 million in the year 2020, news agency AFP reported.

The fertility rate in the world’s populous nation currently stands at 1.3 which is beneath the levels needed to maintain a stable population, the latest data showed. The decision was announced after a meeting by the Political Bureau of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), headed by President Xi Jinping.

Also, many supporting measures for families such as improving maternity leaves, universal childcare and lowering education costs were promised by the meeting in the wake of the new measures.

As China relaxes its family planning rules, here is a look at the previous laws in place regarding the issue and how they have changed over the years.

One-child policy

China’s well-known one child policy was implemented initially in the year 1979 and the government had it in effect for decades before eventually relaxing it in the year 2016 (when the changes came into effect). Since then, the government allowed for couples to have up to two kids.

The one-child policy was widely criticised for the fact that it was a violation of fundamental human rights and reproductive freedom, the BBC reported back in 2015, citing experts in China and the West. Also, many rich families circumvented the rule by paying fines, the BBC report said.

Relaxations and changes made further

Growing concerns regarding the issues with one-child policy pushed the Chinese government to announce that couples, where at least one partner is an only child, would be allowed to have two children, in the year 2013, according to a report by China-based CGTN.

In the year 2016, the government replaced the one-child policy with the two-child policy, a relaxation to the existing decades-old law. Despite a growth in the number of births in 2016, the count has fallen from 2017 to 2020 for four years in a row, the report showed.

Also, many have criticised the new reforms in Chinese social media platforms, saying that it is only possible for the rich people and others are already facing many challenges such as longer working hours and increasing housing prices.

(With inputs from agencies)

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