U.S. Markets closed

China to loosen one-child policy, end labor camps

The Great Hall of the People, where the Chinese Communist Party plenum is being held, is seen behinds red flags in Tiananmen square in Beijing November 12, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will ease its family planning policies and abolish a controversial labor camp system, according to a key document issued after a ruling Communist Party meeting, the official Xinhua news agency said on Friday.

Couples will be allowed to have two children if one of the parents is an only child, as part of an adjustment of the birth policy to promote "long-term balanced development of the population in China", it said.

Previously, a couple could only generally have a second child if both parents were only children.

The reform package will also see China abolish the labor camp system, which it calls re-education through labor, and reduce the number of crimes subject to the death penalty "step by step", Xinhua added.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard, Li Hui and Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie and Raju Gopalakrishnan)