by Alice Monroe
China has announced it is relaxing its controversial one-child policy as part of a raft of sweeping social and economic reforms
BEIJING, China -- The Chinese government announced on Friday that it is relaxing its controversial one-child policy for the first time in three decades. Couples in which at least one parent is an only child are now permitted to have a second child if they wish.
Overall, analysts say, the policy easing will affect some 15-20 million Chinese parents, and is unlikesly to result in a baby boom. "A baby boom can be safely ruled out," said Wang Feng, professor of sociology at the University of California Irvine in the United States.
Overall, the introduction of the more relaxed rules does little to ease China's prevailing birth control policies which remain firmly in place. Wang Pei'an, a deputy director of China's National Health and Family Planning Commission confirmed this.
"There has been no fundamental change to the fact that we are a very populous country, and the pressures on the economy, society, resources and the environment will be around for a long time," Wang said. "The basic policy of family planning will need to be upheld over the long term and we cannot rest up on this," he confirmed.
China is the world's most populous nation with nearly 1.4 billion people. Other reforms announced on Friday include the abolition of "re-education through labor" camps as well as new initiatives to boost the role of the private sector in the economy.