China considers ending birth limits as soon as this year

The State Council, China’s cabinet, has commissioned research on the repercussions of ending the country’s roughly four-decade-old policy and intends to enact the change nationwide, said the people, who asked not to be named while discussing government deliberations. The leadership wants to reduce the pace of aging in China’s population and remove a source of international criticism, one of the people said.

Proposals under discussion would replace the population-control policy with one called “independent fertility,” allowing people to decide how many children to have, the person said. The decision could be made as soon as the fourth quarter, the second person said, adding that the announcement might also be pushed into 2019.

“It’s late for China to remove birth limits even within this year but it’s better than never,” said Chen Jian, a former division chief at the National Family Planning Commission, who’s now a vice president of the China Society of Economic Reform. “Scrapping birth limits will have little effect on the tendency of China’s declining births.”