China Relaxes 1-Child Rule for Families Affected by Earthquake

Parents whose children died or were disabled in China's devastating earthquake will be allowed to have more children after lawmakers in the hardest-hit province waived strict family-planning controls, state media reported Saturday.

The Sichuan provincial legislature passed exemptions Friday to relax family-planning laws that are commonly referred to as the one-child policy.

Under the exemptions, families whose only child died or was disabled or whose two children were both disabled may now have another child as may families in which one parent was disabled, the reports said.

The May 7.9-magnitude quake left nearly 70,000 people dead in China's worst natural disaster in 30 years. Among the dead were children from 18,000 families, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The loss of so many children stirred public anger across China over shoddily built schools in a chronically underfunded education system that is often susceptible to local corruption. Parents of dead children have staged protests demanding investigations but in recent weeks have been subjected to intimidation and financial inducements to silence them.

Sichuan has begun paying $15 per month in subsidies to 5,200 families whose children died or were disabled, the China Daily quoted the provincial family planning commission as saying.