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China birth rate up after change in one-child rule

BEIJING China last year saw its highest number of births this century, officials said, a rise that came after the country relaxed its family planning policies in 2015 to allow more families a second child.

It welcomed 17.86 million new children last year - an annual increase of 7.9 per cent - with nearly half of the new births occurring in families that already have one child, Mr Yang Wenzhuang, an official from the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), said on Sunday.

The figure was 1.31 million higher than in 2015, according to the China Daily.

The proportion of newborns born to parents who already have a first child rose from around 30 per cent in 2013 to 45 per cent last year, Mr Yang said.

China had loosened restrictions on the "one child policy" in response to an ageing population and shrinking workforce.- AFP

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