China has scrapped its notorious one-child policy, allowing all Chinese couples to have two children for the first time in more than three decades, official media reported on Thursday.
“China abandons one-child policy,” Xinhua, China’s official news agency, announced on Twitter.
For months there has been speculation that Beijing was preparing to abandon the highly controversial family planning rule, which was introduced in 1980 amid fears of a calamitous population explosion.
China’s Communist rulers credit their policy with preventing 400 million births but the draconian regulation has also been blamed for millions of forced abortions.
The UN estimates that by 2050 China will have nearly 440 million over-60s.
News that the one-child policy had been scrapped comes three months after one Chinese newspaper predicted the policy would be phased out by the end of this year.
At the time those reports were denied by the Chinese government.