China: Three-child policy formally passed into law
International desk || shiningbd
China has formally revised its laws to allow couples to have up to three children, to boost the birth rate.
The regulation was one of several passed on Friday at a meeting of the country's top lawmakers, the National People's Congress (NPC).
Details on a controversial anti-sanctions law for Hong Kong, which many businesses feared would put them in a difficult position, were also expected.
But Hong Kong media reported on Friday that the decision had been delayed.
China had announced back in May that it would allow couples to have up to three children, in a major policy shift.
That decision has now been formally passed into law, along with several resolutions aimed at boosting the birth rate and "reducing the burden" of raising a child, said Xinhua news agency.
These include cancelling the "social maintenance fee" - a financial penalty couples pay for having children beyond the limit, encouraging local governments to offer parental leave, increasing women's employment rights; and improving childcare infrastructure.
Recent census data had shown a steep decline in the birth rate.
In 2016, the country had scrapped its decades-old one-child policy to replace it with a two-child limit, but this failed to lead to a sustained upsurge in births.
The cost of raising children in cities has deterred many Chinese couples.
This past week, global banks and financial institutions had been watching the NPC meeting closely for signs on how and when the controversial anti-sanctions law would affect Hong Kong.
China had already passed the law in June, and was expected on Friday to put it into Hong Kong and Macau's mini-constitutions, spelling out how it would be applied. Reports on Friday however quoted a lawmaker as saying this was delayed.
Under the law, companies in China are not allowed to implement foreign sanctions against Chinese individuals or entities. On top of that, they are required to help Beijing carry out retaliatory measures, and may face punishment if they refuse.