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China to loosen 1 child policy, abolish labor camps
AP BEIJING – China will loosen its decades-old one-child policy by allowing two children for families with one parent who was an only child and will abolish a much-criticized labor camp system, its ruling Communist Party said Friday. The changes were part of a key policy document released by the official Xinhua News Agency following a four-day meeting of party leaders through Tuesday in Beijing. The document also seeks to map out China's economic policy for coming years. The labor camp -- or "re-education through labor" -- system was established to punish early critics of the Communist Party but now is used by local officials to deal with people challenging their authority on issues including land rights and corruption. Pu Zhiqiang, a prominent Beijing lawyer who has represented several former labor camp detainees in seeking compensation, welcomed the abolition of the extra-legal system. "There have been many methods used recently by this government that are against the rule of law, and do not respect human rights, or freedom of speech, but by abolishing the labor camps ... it makes it much harder for the police to put these people they clamp down on into labor camps," Pu said. "This is progress," Pu said. China's family-planning policy currently limits most urban couples to one child and allows two children for rural families if their first-born is a girl. It also allows two children for parents who themselves are both singletons. The new policy will allow two children for families where only one parent was an only child. AP
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