China has decided to end its decades-long one-child policy, the Xinhua news agency reports.

All couples will now be allowed to have two children, the state-run news agency said, citing a statement from the Communist Party.

The controversial policy was introduced nationally in 1979, to reduce the country’s birth rate and slow the population growth rate. However, concerns at China’s ageing population led to pressure for change.

According to BBC News, the one-child policy is estimated to have prevented about 400million births since it began.

Couples who violated the policy faced a variety of punishments, from fines and the loss of employment to forced abortions.

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