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Facing a demographic crisis, China modifies its one-child policy

China’s Communist Party changed its longstanding one-child policy to allow couples to have two children. While the original policy was introduced in 1979 to curb a surging population, the country now faces a labor shortage and the needs of its rapidly aging citizens. Lucy Watson of Independent Television News reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Now to a massive shift in China.

    Earlier today, its ruling Communist Party announced a turn from its more-than-three-decades-old restriction on the number of children couples can have.

    Lucy Watson of Independent Television News reports from Beijing.

  • LUCY WATSON:

    China's one-child policy is changing, and the end of its brutal intrusion into family life is nigh. Couples will now be allowed two children. For more than 35 years, the one-child rule has been enforced by punishing families.

  • BAI XIO LING, Mother:

    (through interpreter): When they fired me for having a second baby, we were almost too poor to feed ourselves. We were beaten up for campaigning for my daughter's life. But nobody would listen to us.

  • LUCY WATSON:

    Bai Xio Ling dared to have two daughters, Li Bing and Li Xue, two sisters eight years apart. One exists according to Chinese law. The other doesn't, just because she came second.

  • LI XUE, Daughter (through interpreter):

    I was born in China. I'm Chinese. But I have no rights. I couldn't go to school. I can't travel. I can't see a doctor. Nothing in my life works.

  • LUCY WATSON:

    It was in 1979 that the legislation was introduced by Deng Xiaoping to curb a then surging population and avoid stifling economic growth. Now a different demographic crisis looms.

  • DU PENG, Renmin University (through interpreter):

    A labor shortage and a rapidly aging population caused by the policy to undermine economic growth. It's not always good if the birthrate stays low. We need a more balanced model.

  • LUCY WATSON:

    But it could be too little too late in a country where the rights to have and raise a child are still being manipulated.

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