China paves way to end two-child policy

China, the world’s most populous nation, appears to be setting the stage to end its decades-long policy of determining the number of children that couples can have, a social media post by a state-run newspaper suggested.

All content on family planning has been dropped in a draft civil code being deliberated by top lawmakers on Monday, the Procuratorate Daily wrote in a post on its Weibo account.

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China has loosened its family planning policy as its population greys, birth rates slow and its workforce declines. In 2016, the government allowed couples in urban areas to have two children, replacing a one-child policy enforced since 1979.

The draft civil code also includes a one-month "cooling off" period in which couples filing for divorce can withdraw their case.

Revisions to the draft civil code will be submitted to China’s annual parliamentary meeting in March 2020.

Speculation that China may further ease its two-child policy was sparked early this month when China Post unveiled the design of a stamp for release next year that features a family of two pigs and three cheerful piglets.

Debate on the policy was further stoked after two Chinese researchers proposed forcing couples with fewer than two children to pay into a "procreation fund", an idea that was widely criticised. 

Separately, the code also apparently contains moves to tackle workplace sexual harassment, according to China’s state news agency Xinhua.

In recent weeks, the #MeToo movement has escalated in China with accusations of sexual assault spreading across social media in a country where such problems regularly have been brushed under the carpet.

The draft code put forward "clear rules" focused on the "intense problem of sexual harassment" reflected throughout society, Xinhua said on Tuesday.

Victims can demand perpetrators "assume civil liability" according to law for committing sexual harassment through words or actions, or by exploiting someone’s subordinate relationship, Xinhua said, citing the draft rules.

The measures would also require employers to take reasonable measures to prevent, stop, and deal with complaints about sexual harassment, the report added.

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