China Vows Big Expansion of Economic Freedom

Plan will ease slightly the one-child policy, develop a "mixed-ownership economy," and accelerate convertibility of the yuan, among other changes.

In the biggest expansion of economic freedoms since at least the 1990s, China’s leaders vowed to expand farmers’ land rights, loosen the one-child policy, and encourage private investment in state businesses.

Couples can have two children if either parent is an only child, the Communist Party said in a statement yesterday fleshing out policies set at a four-day conclave in Beijing this month. Farmers will get more rights over collectively owned rural land, while the household registration system that impedes internal migration will be scrapped in towns and small cities.

“China is now moving aggressively to assemble the building blocks of a consumer society,” said Stephen Roach, former chief economist at Morgan Stanley and now a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute of Global Affairs. “The measures aimed at family planning, capturing excess SOE profits, and rural income support should lead to a stronger social safety net,” he said, referring to state-owned enterprises.

The People’s Bank of China will “make all efforts to deepen reform and opening-up in the finance industry” to promote economic development, Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said in a separate statement.

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