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.

The new leadership of President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, installed in March, is accelerating an unwinding of Communist Party economic policies that originated during or shortly after the reign of Chairman Mao Zedong. The party needs to fuel growth to cement its grip on power in the face of economic headwinds ranging from local-government debt to an aging population that is set to shrink the nation's workforce.

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