China Rolls Back One-Child Policy, Plans to Scrap Labor Camps
China will loosen its decades-old one-child policy and abolish a much-criticized labor-camp system, the ruling Communist Party said Friday.
The official Xinhua news agency said the party announced the changes in a policy document after a key, four-day meeting of party leaders that ended Tuesday in Beijing.
Under the new family-planning rules, couples may have two children if just one of the parents is an only child. China’s one-child policy currently limits most urban couples to one child and allows two children for rural families if their firstborn is a girl. Previously, both parents had to be only children to qualify for a two-children exemption.
The labor camp — or “re-education through labor” — system was established to punish early critics of the Communist Party but now is used by local officials to deal with people challenging their authority on issues including land rights and corruption.
Under the system, people can be sent for up to four years of “re-education” by a police panel, without a trial or even court appearance. It was introduced in 1957 as a faster method of handling minor offenses.
A 2009 United Nations report estimated that 190,000 Chinese people were locked up in such facilities.
Life in the camps can vary widely, but many prisoners face extremely long work days manufacturing goods or doing agricultural work, the Duihua Foundation, a U.S.-based rights group, said in a report.