China move points to possible end of birth limits

BEIJING (AP) — China is eliminating a trio of agencies responsible for enforcing family planning policies in a further sign the government may be planning to scrap long-standing limits on the number of children its citizens can have.

The move was part of a reorganization of the National Health Commission announced Monday that creates a new single department called the Division of Population Monitoring and Family Development.

Alarmed by the rapidly aging population and shrinking workforce, China abandoned the notorious one-child policy two years ago to allow two children, but the effect on the birthrate has been less than expected.

There were 17.2 million births in the country last year, down from 17.9 million in 2016. Meanwhile, the proportion of the population aged 60 or older increased last year to 17.3 percent.