Population development is a matter of great importance to the development of the Chinese nation. To put into practice the spirit of the 19th Party Congress and its second, third, fourth, and fifth plenary sessions and to promote long-term and balanced population development, the following decision has been made with regard to improving birth policies, implementing a policy that allows couples to have three children, removing restrictive measures such as the social upbringing fee, reviewing and repealing related penalty provisions, and implementing supporting measures to encourage births (hereinafter referred to as the three-child policy and supporting measures).
I. Fully Recognize the Significance of Improving Birth Policies and Promoting Long-Term and Balanced Population Growth
The Party and the state have always adhered to a holistic approach to population and development, a scientific understanding of the laws of population development, and the basic policy of family planning, which have propelled economic growth and social progress and laid a solid foundation for building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. Since the 18th Party Congress, the Central Committee has attached great importance to population issues and, in light of the changing situation of China’s population, made a momentous decision to adjust and improve birth policies step by step to facilitate long-term and balanced population development, with notable success having been achieved on all fronts. Currently, it is of great significance to introduce the three-child policy and supporting measures in order to further adapt to new changes in the population structure and meet the requirements of high-quality development.
(i) The three-child policy and supporting measures will help improve the population structure and contribute to the national strategy of actively addressing population aging. Population aging is a general global trend and a serious challenge for China’s development. China is expected to become an aged society during the 14th Five-Year Plan period and a superaged society by around 2035, which will have far-reaching implications for all areas of economic activities, social development, and culture. Implementing the three-child policy and supporting measures will help unlock the birth potential, slow down population aging, promote intergenerational harmony, and enhance the overall vitality of society.
(ii) The three-child policy and supporting measures will help maintain China’s advantage in human resource endowments and tackle major changes in the world unseen in a century. Population is the mainstay of society’s development and a critical factor in sustainable economic development. Implementing the three-child policy and supporting measures will help maintain an appropriate total population and labor force size in the future, enable better utilization of the fundamental, overarching, and strategic role of the population factor, and provide effective support for high-quality development in the forms of human capital and domestic demand.
(iii) The three-child policy and supporting measures will help alleviate the downward trend in total fertility rate and achieve an appropriate fertility level. The general public has, on the whole, come to favor having fewer but better-raised children. Financial burdens, childcare responsibilities, and women’s concerns about career development have become the main obstacles to having children. Implementing the three-child policy and supporting measures and fostering synergy between birth policies and relevant economic and social policies will help more families realize their desires to have children, boosting the fertility rate.
(iv) The three-child policy and supporting measures will help consolidate what has been achieved in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and promote harmony between human beings and nature. In the near future, China’s population will remain large; the balance between population and the carrying capacity of the environment will remain tight; and the tension between population and development will remain relatively prominent in areas that have been recently lifted out of poverty and in some ecologically fragile and resource-poor areas. Implementing the three-child policy and supporting measures will help further consolidate the achievements in poverty eradication and in building a moderately prosperous society, contribute to a more rational distribution of the population, and promote the sustainable development of the population in harmony with that of the economy, society, resources, and environment.
II. Guiding Ideology, Key Principles, and Primary Goals
(v) Guiding Ideology: We must adhere to the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era; ground our efforts in the new development stage, carry through the new development philosophy, and establish a new development pattern; implement the national strategy of actively addressing population aging, implement the three-child policy and supporting measures, reform the service regulatory regime, enhance families’ capacity for development, work to achieve an appropriate fertility level, and promote long-term and balanced population development, so as to provide a solid foundation and enduring driving force for building a modern and powerful socialist nation that is prosperous, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful, and for realizing the China Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
(vi) Key Principles
– Centered on People: In accordance with the people’s hopes and expectations, we must actively and prudently improve birth policies and ensure that they are well coordinated and fair; meet the public’s diverse birth-related needs and consider marriage, childbearing, child-rearing, and education in a holistic manner; and effectively address the public’s concerns, so as to unleash potential fertility and promote family harmony and happiness.
– Focused on Balance: We must plan and pursue the promotion of long-term and balanced population development according to the larger interests of the party and country and within the overall context of China’s modernization, taking into account multiple policy objectives and considering issues such as population size, quality, structure, and distribution in an integrated manner, so as to ensure the sustainable development of the population in harmony with that of the economy, society, resources, and environment and promote all-around human development.
– Driven by Reform: Focusing on the prominent contradictions and issues facing China’s population development and on the strategic plan for modernization, we must deepen reform, put an end to ideas, policies and regulations, and institutional mechanisms that hinder long-term and balanced population development, and improve the capacity for and standard of population governance.
– Grounded in the Rule of Law: We must ensure that major reforms have a legal basis and are implemented in accordance with the law. We must turn into laws the innovative ideas, reform achievements, and practical experience that the Party has gained in leading the people in resolving population-related issues with an integrated approach, so as to safeguard the people’s legal rights and interests, ensure the steady and long-term progress of population work in the new era, and realize the strategic goals in population development.
(vii) Primary Goals
By 2025, China will have basically established a policy system that actively supports births and a relatively complete service regulatory regime; the standard of services for better childbearing and child-rearing will have significantly improved; an inclusive childcare service system will have been developing at an accelerating pace; and the costs of childbearing, child-rearing, and education will have been significantly reduced, with the fertility level moderately increasing, the sex ratio of newborns becoming more balanced, the population structure gradually improving, and the quality of the population further rising.
By 2035, China will have further refined the policy and regulatory framework for promoting long-term and balanced population development; the service regulation mechanism will be operating efficiently; and fertility will have reached a more ideal level, with the population structure further improving. The standard of services associated with childbearing, childcare, and child-rearing will have satisfied the people’s needs for a better life; families’ capacity for development will have significantly improved; and even more substantial progress will have been made in all-round human development.
III. Effectively Implement the Three-Child Policy
(viii) Implement the three-child policy in accordance with the law. Amend the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Population and Family Planning, advocate marriage and childbirth at an appropriate age and better childbearing and rearing, and implement the three-child policy. Each province (autonomous region, municipality directly under the central government) shall ensure policy alignment and implement the three-child policy in accordance with the law, while taking account of the local situation of population development, conditions for carrying out this work, and risks in policy implementation.
(ix) Remove restrictive measures such as the social upbringing fee. Abolish the social upbringing fee and review and repeal related penalty provisions. The number of children that an individual has shall no longer have any relevance in household registration, school enrollment, and employment. Properly handle legacy issues in accordance with laws and regulations. In areas where the tension between population development and the economy, society, resources, and environment is prominent, it is necessary to step up publicity and guidance, ensure effective coordination between welfare policies and birth policies, and carry out various administrative services with precision.
(x) Establish and improve the population service system. Establish and improve a population service system that covers the entire life cycle, with a focus on the elderly and the young. Strengthen the regulatory system and capacity building of grassroots services and enhance the functions of childcare and elderly care. Ensure the implementation of the birth registration system and provide consultation and guidance on childbearing. Promote a streamlined, one-stop system that simultaneously handles multiple newborn-related administrative tasks, including the issuing of medical birth certificates, child vaccination, household registration, medical insurance enrollment, and social security card application.
(xi) Strengthen population monitoring and situation assessment. Improve the national life registration management system and build a population monitoring system that covers the entire population over the whole life cycle, so as to closely monitor the fertility situation and population trends. Realize the integration, sharing, and dynamic update of basic information pertinent to population services, including education, public security, civil affairs, health, medical insurance, and social security, with the help of platforms such as the national population basic information database. Establish a system of indicators for measuring long-term and balanced population development and improve the population forecast and early warning system.
IV. Improve the Standard of Services Associated with Childbearing and Child-Rearing
(xii) Safeguard maternal and infant health. Fully implement the five systems for maternal and infant safety—screening and assessment of pregnancy risks, special management of high-risk pregnant women, treatment of emergencies and critical conditions, reporting of maternal deaths, and regulatory talks and notices. Carry through the project to safeguard maternal and infant health; step up the standardization and regulation of maternal and infant care providers at all levels; strengthen the capacity for critical maternal and neonatal care and enhance pediatric medicine; bolster the grassroots networks at the county, township, and village levels; and step up efforts to fill the gaps in maternity-related public services. Promote the integration of reproductive health services into the entire process of women’s health management. Enhance the standardization and regulation of child health clinics; improve screening, diagnosis, and intervention in relation to risks and illnesses among children and teenagers, such as myopia, nutritional imbalance, and dental caries. Ensure basic medical coverage for children.
(xiii) Take an integrated approach to the prevention and treatment of birth defects. Improve the network for the prevention and treatment of birth defects and implement the three-tier preventive measures. Raise public awareness and enhance consultation on the prevention of birth defects; enhance premarital healthcare; promote prepregnancy checkups; strengthen prenatal screening and diagnosis; and promote integrated management and services and multidisciplinary cooperation for the prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal periods. Expand the range of diseases covered by newborn screening and facilitate early screening, diagnosis, and treatment. Ensure basic medical assistance and recovery support for children with birth defects.
(xiv) Regulate the use of human-assisted reproductive technologies. Strengthen planning and guidance, make the technical approval process more rigorous, and build a network of human-assisted reproductive technology services that is well distributed and commensurate with demand. Tighten the supervision of human-assisted reproductive technology services and strictly regulate the application of related technologies. Undertake targeted research on improving fertility and regulate infertility diagnosis and treatment services.
V. Develop an Inclusive Childcare Service System
(xv) Establish and improve a system of supporting policy, standards, and regulations. Incorporate infant and child care services into economic and social development planning, strengthen policy guidance, and encourage the active participation of nongovernmental forces by increasing the support of land, housing, fiscal, financial, and talent policies. Develop comprehensive solutions and establish mechanisms at the level of municipal and prefectural administrative units to boost the healthy development of childcare services. Step up efforts to train childcare professionals and gradually implement a professional qualification system for the industry in accordance with the law. Develop new forms of business such as smart childcare and foster national brands in industries such as childcare, dairy and milk powder, and animation design and production.
(xvi) Vigorously develop various forms of inclusive services. Utilize investment from the central government budget as a lead and leverage to promote the construction of convenient and accessible, affordable, and reliable childcare service providers. Encourage employers to provide childcare services for their employees if they are in a position to do so. Encourage state-owned enterprises and other entities to actively participate in the efforts by governments at all levels to establish an inclusive childcare service system. Enhance community childcare service facilities and improve activity areas and service facilities for infants and children in residential communities. Formulate regulations for family childcare homes. Support childcare models such as grandparent care and family mutual aid. Encourage domestic service companies to expand their childcare services. Encourage and support kindergartens in enrolling toddlers aged two to three if they are in a position to do so.
(xvii) Strengthen integrated supervision and regulation. All providers of infant and child care services must comply with national and local standards and regulations and bear the primary responsibility for the health and safety of infants and children. Local governments should assume supervisory responsibilities, establish and improve systems for registration, information disclosure, and evaluation, strengthen dynamic management, and establish emergency response mechanisms for special situations such as the shutdown or closure of a provider.
VI. Reduce the Costs of Childbearing, Child-Rearing, and Education
(xviii) Improve the maternity leave and maternity insurance systems. Strictly implement the policies on maternity leave and breastfeeding leave. Encourage regions in a position to do so to pilot parental childcare leave; improve the mechanism for sharing the cost of leave. Continue to ensure the benefits of maternity insurance—such as coverage of maternity medical expenses and maternity allowances—for insured female employees and ensure the coverage of maternity medical expenses for urban and rural residents enrolled in the basic medical insurance program, so as to lessen the burden of maternity medical expenses.
(xix) Strengthen supporting policies in areas such as taxation and housing. In conjunction with the next revision of the individual income tax law, study and promote the inclusion of expenses for the care of children under three years old in special additional deductions for individual income tax. Local governments, when allocating public rental housing to eligible families with minor children, can show due consideration in the selection of apartment layouts according to the number of minor children. Local governments can study and formulate policies that provide preferential treatment in home renting and purchasing based on the burden to a family of raising minor children.
(xx) Promote educational equity and the supply of high-quality educational resources. Promote the regulation of kindergartens built as part of urban housing developments, continue to increase the coverage rate of affordable kindergartens, and encourage them to appropriately extend operating hours or provide childcare services. Promote urban-rural integration and high-quality and balanced development of compulsory education, so as to effectively tackle the “rush for good schools” problem. Take advantage of the educational resources of schools to comprehensively offer after-school cultural and sports activities, experiential learning projects, and childcare services on the principles of public interest and inclusiveness; encourage the alignment of the end of school hours with the end of parents’ working hours. Improve the quality of in-school teaching and education evaluation; include information such as how often students attend after-school tutoring and how much it costs into the education supervision system. Balance the burden of education between families and schools and strictly regulate after-school tutoring.
(xxi) Safeguard women’s legal rights and interests in employment. Regulate the recruitment practices of government bodies, public institutions, and companies to promote equal employment for women. Rigorously implement the Special Provisions on Labor Protection of Female Employees and regularly conduct special inspections on the protection of female employees’ maternity rights. Provide reemployment training as a public service for women whose employment has been interrupted by childbearing. Make maternity-friendly practices an important aspect of employers’ social responsibilities, encourage employers to devise measures conducive to work-family balance, and encourage them to negotiate—in accordance with the law—with employees to determine flexible leave and flexible working arrangements conducive to childcare. Amend and improve current policies and regulations on leave and working hours in due course.
VII. Ensure Continuity amid Policy Adjustments
(xxii) Safeguard the legal rights and interests of families that have followed the family planning policy. Continue the current reward and support system and preferential policies for families with only one child and rural families with only two daughters born before the shift to the universal two-child policy. Explore setting up a caregiver leave system for only children to care for their parents. Strengthen legislation to protect the legal rights and interests of families that have complied with the party and government’s call for family planning.
(xxiii) Establish and improve a system of comprehensive support for families that have practiced family planning but later encountered special difficulties [i.e., whose only children are disabled or dead]. Dynamically adjust the level of support according to factors such as the level of economic and social development. Ensure the implementation of relevant policies on the basic pension and basic medical insurance for eligible members of such families; prioritize them for admission to public elderly care facilities and provide them with free or low-cost care services; prioritize those with housing difficulties for housing support programs. If possible, regions can grant a care allowance to elderly people in such families who are unable to live independently and are in financial difficulty. Secure the necessary funds for providing support; if possible, regions can explore setting up public welfare funds or foundations with a focus on assisting families that have practiced family planning but later encountered special difficulties.
(xxiv) Establish and improve a government-led support and care mechanism with civil society organizations’ participation. Encourage qualified civil society organizations to accept—through open bidding—the entrustment of families that have practiced family planning but later encountered special difficulties to provide them with services such as custodial and emotional care and, in accordance with the law, handle on their behalf matters such as admission to elderly care facilities and accompaniment to medical appointments. Thoroughly carry out the “Heartwarming Campaign.” Establish a system of routine visits, provide a two-person point of contact for families that have practiced family planning but later encountered special difficulties, and weave a robust safety net of support.
VIII. Strengthen the Organizational Safeguards for the Implementation of the Policies
(xxv) Strengthen the Party’s leadership. Party committees and governments at all levels must reinforce their political stance; heighten their awareness of national conditions and policies; make sure that their top leaders personally take charge and assume overall responsibility; adhere to and improve the target-oriented accountability system; strengthen overall planning, policy coordination, and work implementation; work to introduce supporting measures to encourage births; and ensure that responsibilities are defined, that measures are put in place, that necessary resources are invested, and that implementation is effective.
(xxvi) Mobilize social forces. Strengthen collaborative governance between the government and society and fully leverage the important role of mass organizations such as trade unions, the Communist Youth League, and the All-China Women’s Federation in promoting population development, family building, and maternity support. Actively bring into play the role of family planning associations, step up grassroots capacity building, and efficiently perform tasks such as publicity and education, reproductive health consultation, guidance on better childbearing and child-rearing, assistance to families that have practiced family planning, protection of rights and interests, and promotion of family health. Encourage civil society organizations to carry out public welfare activities such as raising health literacy and providing infant and child care services. Launch initiatives to boost urban vitality, with the aims of meeting the everyday needs of the elderly and creating a healthy environment for the growth of infants and children.
(xxvii) Advance strategic research. Continue to advance research on the national medium- and long-term population development strategy and regional population development planning, so as to build a strong modern socialist country and achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation; improve the spatial distribution of the population; and optimize the allocation of human resources. Strengthen the development of population studies and theoretical frameworks with Chinese characteristics in the new era, build up high-end think tanks for population studies, and promote international exchange and cooperation.
(xxviii) Provide effective publicity and guidance. Step up efforts to publicize and explain policies; align the thoughts and actions of all regions and government departments and the whole society with the major decisions and plans of the Party Central Committee; help all sectors of society to correctly understand the structural changes in China’s population; promote mainstream values and channel positive energy; promptly and appropriately respond to concerns in society; and create a favorable atmosphere. Promote the traditional virtues of the Chinese nation; respect the social value of childbirth; advocate marriage and childbirth at an appropriate age and better childbearing and rearing; encourage couples to share child-rearing responsibilities; and break with outdated customs such as exorbitant betrothal gifts and foster a new culture of marriage and childbearing.
(xxix) Strengthen work supervision and inspection. Each province (autonomous region, municipality directly under the central government) must formulate implementation plans in accordance with the requirements of this decision, rigorously perform the tasks, and study and tackle incipient problems and adverse trends in a timely manner, so as to ensure that the improved birth policies yield positive results. The party committee and government of each province (autonomous region, municipality directly under the central government) shall give an annual update on the local situation of population work to the Central Committee and the State Council, which will conduct inspections as appropriate.