China, in Major Policy Shift, Announces Married Couples Can Now Have 3 Children

May 31, 2021 Updated: May 31, 2021

BEIJING—The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced on May 31 that married couples may have up to three children, a major policy shift from the existing limit of two after recent data showed a dramatic decline in births in the world’s most populous country.

The change was approved during a politburo meeting chaired by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, official state media Xinhua reported.

In 2016, the CCP scrapped its decades-old one-child policy—initially imposed to halt a population explosion—with a two-child limit, which failed to result in a sustained surge in births.

“To further optimize the birth policy, (Beijing) will implement a one-married-couple-can-have-three-children policy,” Xinhua said in a report on the meeting.

The regime’s policy change will come with “supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving our country’s population structure, fulfilling the country’s strategy of actively coping with an aging population and maintaining the advantage, endowment of human resources,” Xinhua said.

It didn’t specify what those support measures would be.

The announcement drew a chilly response on Chinese social media, where many people said they couldn’t afford to have even one or two children.

“I am willing to have three children if you give me 5 million yuan ($785,650),” one user posted on Weibo.

Early this month, China’s once-in-a-decade census showed that the population grew at its slowest rate during the last decade since the 1950s, to 1.41 billion.

Data also showed a fertility rate of just 1.3 children per woman for 2020 alone, on a par with aging societies like Japan and Italy.

Also on May 31, the Politburo said it would phase-in delays in the country’s retirement ages but didn’t provide any details regarding the change.

The Epoch Times contributed to this report.