TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced on Monday (May 31) that it would begin to allow families to have three children, in an effort to replenish the ranks of the country’s rapidly aging population.
The CCP announced the decision following a Politburo meeting chaired by Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平). The party stated that the move would “help improve our country’s population structure and help implement a national strategy to actively respond to the aging population,” per The New York Times.
The decision follows the nation’s recent once-in-a-decade census, which showed the country’s birth rate to be at its lowest in seven decades, according to the BBC. Last year, Chinese women gave birth to 12 million babies, a drop from the 14.65 million in 2019.
Critics have long condemned the Chinese government’s invasive approach to reproductive rights, which began with the introduction of the one-child policy in 1980. For decades, fines, denials of government services, and even forced abortions were meted out to those who crossed the policy’s threshold.
However, the policy was often unenforced in rural areas, and ethnic minorities were permitted to have additional children in select regions.
In 2013, the CCP began to allow parents from one-child households to have a second child themselves. In 2016, the two-child policy became universalized throughout the country.
China’s birth rate last year was 1.3 children per woman — below the 2.1 rate needed for a stable population — while the average number of children a woman wished to have was 1.8, per SCMP.