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China: ‘Three-child policy’ still a violation of sexual and reproductive rights

Responding to reports that the Chinese government is set to allow married couples to have up to three children, raising it from the current limit of two, the head of Amnesty International’s China Team, Joshua Rosenzweig, said:

“Governments have no business regulating how many children people have. Rather than ‘optimizing’ its birth policy, China should instead respect people’s life choices and end any invasive and punitive controls over people’s family planning decisions.

“Under such a policy, couples could still be penalized for their decisions around childbirth. Raising the limit from two children to three would bring China no closer to meeting its human rights obligations. Everyone, regardless of marital status, should be entitled to sexual and reproductive rights, including whether and when to become pregnant.”

Background

A change in China’s birth policy was deliberated at a Chinese Communist Party Politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping, the state-controlled Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

Under the new policy, married couples would be permitted to have three children. Xinhua reported that plans for “optimizing the fertility policy” would include “supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving our country’s population structure”.

China scrapped its decades-old one-child policy in 2016, replacing it with a two-child limit in an attempt to counter the country’s ageing population.