China Eases One-Child Policy

And ends system of re-education through labor in historic change

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Wang Zhao / AFP / Getty Images

A family walks along a road at a park in Beijing on Dec. 28, 2013

China’s top legislature moved Saturday to ease its long-standing one-child policy and end the practice of re-education through labor, or laojiao.

Under the new law passed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, families will be allowed to have a second child if both parents are only children, CNN reports, quoting Xinhua state news agency. The one-child policy was introduced in the 1970s to curb population growth and is estimated to have prevented some 400 million births.

The closure of China’s controversial labor camps will go into effect Saturday and people still serving sentences in such camps will be set free, Xinhua reports. The camps date from the 1950s and have long been criticized by human-rights advocates for their role in silencing dissidents and persecuting intellectuals and spiritual groups.