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China to formalize reforms to one-child policy, labor camps

BEIJING -- China's top legislative committee is set to formalize landmark reforms to unpopular decades-old policies including abolishing “re-education through labor” camps and increasing exceptions to the one-child limit.

The ruling Communist Party announced the long-sought changes among a raft of pledges after a key gathering in November.

The “standing committee” of the country's rubberstamp parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), is considering the moves during a six-day meeting that began Monday, state-run media said.

“The NPC Standing Committee will vote on the proposal as early as Saturday, which, if passed will mark the end of the half-century old system” of “re-education through labor,” the China Daily reported on Tuesday.

China introduced re-education through labor in 1957 as a speedy way to handle petty offenders, but the system — which allows a police panel to issue sentences of up to four years without going to trial — soon became rife with abuse.

The camps have become “superfluous” as the country's legal system has developed, the official news agency Xinhua said late Monday, citing a bill put forward by the State Council, or national cabinet.

“The historical mission of laojiao has been completed,” Xinhua said.

Reforms being considered to the one-child policy — imposed more than three decades ago to prevent overpopulation — would allow couples where either parent has no siblings to have two children.

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