China has ended its controversial one-child policy, thus allowing every couple in the communist country to have a second child.

The decision came on Thursday during the 5th Plenum meeting in Beijing, where the Communist Party is charting out China's next five-year plan, Xinhua reported. 

The one-child policy had been partially relaxed in 2013 after three decades but only for those couples in which at least one parent was a single child. Such couples were allowed to have two children. 

The policy had come into effect in 1980 a little after Chairman Mao Zedong's rule, as the government claimed that the population growth had led to food shortages in the country. 

Couple who flouted the one-child policy were slapped with penalties and were even forced to carry out abortions. 

In some areas in China, family planning officials went as far as keeping track of women's menstrual cycles to check for pregnancies, according to this BBC report. 

China has received warnings from demographers that it would soon be left with an ageing society, with 25% of its population expected to be above 60 years of age by 2030.