"The state advocates that one couple shall have two children," said a revised Population and Family Planning Law passed by the Chinese legislators at a bimonthly session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee yesterday.

The newly revised law will take effect on January 1, 2016, according to a media report. The amendment comes after the Communist Party of China's Central Committee in October announced the scrapping of the decades-long 'one couple, one child' policy to stabilise population growth and offset the burden of an aging population.

Since the late 1970s, couples in cities have been allowed only one child, and those in rural areas a second child if the first is a girl. People who have more children than allowed would have to pay a considerable amount to cover for "social costs."

"The change reflects a mindset shift from 'controlling' to 'encouraging' childbearing," Wang Ming, a public administration professor at Tsinghua University and a member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said.

According to the new law, parents will also be given extended maternity leaves and other benefits when their first and second child is born. However, those subsidies will not be given to parents who voluntarily choose to have only one child after 2016.

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