China: Ending its decade-long one child policy, the Communist Party, in a statement, has said that all couples will now be allowed to have two children, according to Xinhua news agency reports.
The controversial policy was introduced nationally in 1979, to reduce the country’s birth rate and slow the population growth rate.
However, concerns at China’s ageing population led to pressure for change.
The one-child policy is estimated to have prevented about 400m births since it began.
Couples who violated the policy faced a variety of punishments, from fines and the loss of employment to forced abortions.
Over time, the policy was relaxed in some provinces, as demographers and sociologists raised concerns about rising social costs and falling worker numbers.
The Communist Party began formally relaxing national rules two years ago, allowing couples in which at least one of the pair is an only child to have a second child.
The announcement comes on the final day of a summit of the Chinese Communist Party’s policy-making Central Committee, known as the fifth plenum.
The party is also set to announce growth targets and its next five year plan.