China's one-child policy change set for Q1 next year

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - Changes to China's strict one-child policy, which will allow more parents to have a second child, will begin to roll out early next year, the country's family planning commission told official media late on Monday.

The policy change is expected to go into force in some areas of China in the first quarter of 2014, Yang Wenzhuang, a director at the National Health and Family Planning Commission told China's official Xinhua news agency.

Beijing said last month it would allow millions of families to have two children, the most radical relaxation of its strict one-child policy in close to three decades. The move is part of a plan to raise fertility rates and ease the financial burden of China's rapidly ageing population..

Authorities are in the process of calculating the number of eligible couples and their situations before specific regulations are approved, Yang said.

The policy move has buoyed baby-related stocks and has seen a rush for fertility-boosting products as parents look to make use of the relaxed rules.

China will eventually scrap family planning restrictions, but is unlikely to abandon its family planning policy in the near term, a senior official said last month.

China, with nearly 1.4 billion people, is the world's most populous country. The government says the policy of limiting families to one child, which covers 63 per cent of the population, has averted 400 million births since 1980.