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Measures to support third-child policy

By LI LEI| China Daily| Updated: July 21, 2021 L M S

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A nurse weighs a baby at a hospital in Nanning, capital of Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [Photo by Liu Wenhua/China News Service]

Moves to help tackle decreasing birthrate, achieve balanced population growth

China will establish a comprehensive support system by 2025 that helps to "significantly reduce" burdens on couples related to child-rearing and education in a set of policy tools to boost the number of newborns, the central authorities said on Tuesday.

These efforts will see birthrates improve to some degree with fast-paced investment in pregnancy and day care services and related facilities during the period, according to a document issued on Tuesday that sets out a decision made by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council on June 26.

The "sex ratio, structure and quality" of the Chinese population will also improve with the help of the reforms, said the document, which aim to improve the nation's childbirth policies and achieve long-term balanced population growth.

The document issued on Tuesday spells out the specific measures to implement the policy decision of the central authorities on May 31 to allow all couples to have a third child, as the country faces the continuous challenges of a graying society and a decreasing birthrate.

The document said financial burdens, a shortfall in the provision of day care services and women's career concerns were among the major factors that have reduced couples' willingness to have more children.

It called on local authorities to abolish the social compensation fee imposed on people who breach family planning policies, and remove any link between this and education and employment opportunities.

The document also asked local governments to streamline the handling of matters such as the issuing of birth certificates, vaccinations for newborn babies and applications for social security cards.

Broader support will also be rolled out in a wide range of sectors to improve the provision of day care services, the document said, adding that kindergartens will be encouraged to admit children younger than 3, the lower limit under the current admission policies.

The document suggests couples with younger children will have access to tax reductions, subsidized housing and breastfeeding leave. Inspections will also be made to ensure pregnancy and childbirth does not jeopardize women's career opportunities.

The document noted that China will continue to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of families with only one child, such as the current reward and assistance system and policies for families with only one child and rural families with two daughters, born before the introduction of the second-child policy.

Efforts will also be made to explore setting up an improved leave system for offspring from one-child families to care for their parents.

China will also tighten supervision of reproductive health services, it said, adding that the aim is to enhance the level of prenatal and postnatal care services and to build a system of reproductive health services with balanced supply and demand.

As the authorities are still overhauling rules in line with the new third-child policy, many couples have found themselves in limbo. Under China's family planning rules, couples usually need to obtain official documents to expand their families.

To address this, the authorities in some parts of China, including the Tibet autonomous region and Anhui province, have allowed couples to go ahead with their plans to have more children, and they will be able to apply for the official documents once the new rules are in place.

China started to promote family planning in the 1970s and included it in the Constitution as a national policy in 1982.

The authorities started to relax family planning policies after the sixth national census, whose results were released in 2010 and pointed to the accelerating aging of the population.

Starting in 2013, the authorities allowed couples who were both only children to have a second child, and the policy was expanded to cover all couples in 2016. This is estimated to have led to the birth of an additional 10 million babies in the subsequent years.

Xinhua contributed to this story.