China’s leadership has signaled that it plans to ease the country’s one-child policy, allow for greater economic freedom, and abolish labor reeducation camps, detailing these ideas in a blueprint for reform released on Friday after a four-day meeting of top Communist-party leaders.
While China is not fully repealing the one-child policy, the changes would allow couples to have two children so long as one of the parents is an only child. The previous rule mandated couples have one child except in more narrowly drawn exceptions, such as in some rural districts and among some ethnic minorities.
The party also proposed a series of market reforms in an attempt to continue the country’s economic growth, which some worry will begin to flag: The government plans to insure bank deposits, create a mechanism for filing bankruptcy, and loosen price controls. The proposal would also force state firms to pay larger dividends to the government and allow for private companies to have a bigger role in the economy.
The document also mentioned that the state would abolish re-education camps (a system known as “laogai”). Under current law, people can be sent to the camps for up to four years by police panels, without a court hearing. The camps have been the focus of growing criticism, especially after a woman, Tang Hui, was sent to a labor camp for repeatedly petitioning authorities to enact stronger punishments against men who had kidnapped her daughter and forced her into prostitution.