State-run newspaper the Global Times reports that proposals were submitted following a major reshuffle of agencies within the State Council at the annual meetings between the country's top leaders in Beijing. After the reorganization, the family planning commission was dismantled, with a national health commission established in its place.
According to the Global Times, the newly submitted proposals are aimed at encouraging more births in China, with at least one calling for a "three-child policy" and another suggesting scrapping limits altogether.
Analysts say that many Chinese lawmakers and advisers feel the current family planning policy — first introduced four decades ago — is getting outdated.
READ MORE: The One-Child Generation Comes of Age
China officially abandoned its decades-old one-child policy, replacing it with a two-child policy that took effect on January 1, 2016. First introduced in 1978 to control the nation’s booming population, the one-child policy was relaxed in response to China’s rapidly aging society.
Image via Time Travel Turtle
But a little over two years into the new policy, birthrates around China have seen little to no increase, despite propaganda campaigns that have even encouraged "young comrades to lead by example in birthing a second child."
In fact, birth rates actually declined last year, with data from the National Bureau of Statistics indicating that there were 17.23 million births in 2017 — a decline of 630,000 from 2016. Meanwhile, the national fertility rate was 1.7 births per woman in 2016.
Image via Asia Times
During this year's Two Sessions, Zhu Lieyu, a Guangdong-based delegate, proposed that all couples be allowed to have a third child. Meanwhile, another delegate from Guangdong, Zhou Haibo, proposed abandoning the family planning policy entirely, with no limit on the number of children per family. Zhou's proposal received support from a Suzhou-based delegate who also advised "building more kindergartens, training more pediatricians and extending maternity and paternity leave" should the policy be abandoned, according to the GT.
Zhou's proposal also including a startling statistic: the number of first children born to couples decreased by 1.2 million in 2017, indicating that young couples were "reluctant to have children."
Experts believe these proposals indicate the family planning policy is indeed on its way out.
"The sharp decline of new births in 2017 came earlier than most experts predicted, and in the coming years, China will witness a drastic reduction in the numbers of pregnancies, which will further drive down the number of new births," demographics expert Huang Wenzheng told the GT.
Among other policies that have been proposed since the State Council reshuffle include one that would establish a national immigration bureau that simulatenously handles exit-entry bureaus for Chinese citizens and visas for foreigners.
[Top image via WebShopinChina]