Amid the declining birth rates in the country, Chinese authorities have issued a guideline introducing a raft of policies for prenatal and postnatal support to promote balanced long-term population development.
These measures include better maternal care services and public-benefit childcare services, improved maternity and parental leave policies, according to the guideline released Tuesday by the National Health Commission.
The measure also includes preferential policies on housing and taxation, and the fostering of fertility-friendly workplaces, Xinhua news agency reported.
In recent years, China has seen a growing number of people covered by maternity insurance. In 2021, the number reached 240 million, 1.5 times that of 2012.
The Chinese state media said the newly released guideline said local governments may explore ways to expand the coverage of maternity insurance to include workers in flexible employment.
The guideline also noted other measures, such as building a fertility-friendly workplace, encouraging flexible working practices, and safeguarding people's lawful labour and employment rights and interests.
In the seventh nationwide census of 2020, China's population on the mainland showed a growth of 0.53 per cent annually on average in the past decade.
China's birthrate has been in decline since 2017, despite easing of the 'one-child policy' in order to avert an incoming demographic crisis.
Last year, Beijing issued a new Population and Family Planning Law that allows Chinese couples to have three children, ostensibly responding to couples' unwillingness to have additional children due to rising costs.
The decision to allow the third child was implemented after the once-in-a-decade census in 2020 showed that China's population expanded at the slowest rate in history, reaching 1.412 billion people.
China's demographic issue is predicted to worsen as over 60 years old increased by 18.7 per cent to 264 million people, according to census data.