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China to Abolish Labor Camps, Loosen One-Child Policy



China says development of a "mixed ownership" economy is a key part of sweeping financial and social reforms announced Friday.

Details of 60 reform proposals endorsed this week by Communist Party leaders show private investment will soon be allowed in projects that have been dominated by state-owned forms. A summary of decisions by members of the party's central committee includes a call for market-oriented reforms, to be achieved, in part, by breaking up monopolies and introducing competition.

Private investors in China also will be allowed to open small- to medium-sized banks, and state-owned firms will have to sharply increase their dividend payments to the government by the end of the decade.

Enabling the free market to play a larger role in China's state-controlled economy was one of the main themes of the central committee's four days of plenary meetings in Beijing this week.

The social reforms China announced Friday made headlines around the world: the government will relax its "one-child" policy for families, in effect for decades, and it will abolish the country's "re-education through labor" camps, which police have used for years to imprison hundreds of thousands of people without trial.



Those sent to labor camps could be held for up to four years without any court appearances. The state news agency said the system is being changed "to improve human rights and judicial practices."

No date was set for dismantling the prison camps, nor was it made clear what will replace them. The camps are currently believed to hold as many as 190,000 people.

Similarly, no date was given for enacting the new rules limiting family size. In the future, state media said, Chinese couples be allowed to have two children if one parent is an only child. Rights groups have long criticized the one-child policy, which has been accompanied at times by forced abortions and sterilizations.

The Communist Party announcement, endorsed by President Xi Jinping and other top officials, said the government will reduce, "step by step," the number of crimes that can be punished by death. China does not release such details, but rights groups such as Amnesty International believe it has executed more people in recent years than than the rest of the world combined.

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