China announces families can have three children

In a major policy shift, China said on Monday it will now allow married couples to have three children,

up from its existing limit of two.

This comes off the back of the country recording a dramatic decline in births.

The change was approved during a politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping,

the official news agency Xinhua reported.

Earlier this month, China's once-in-a-decade census

showed that the population grew at its slowest rate

during the last decade since the 1950s.

In a poll online with the hashtag #AreYouReady for the three-child policy.

about 29,000 of 31,000 respondents said they would “never think of it” while the remainder chose the options ranging from

"I'm ready and very eager to do so", to “I'm hesitating and there's lot to consider”.

That poll on Xinhua's Weibo account was later removed.

Reactions to the announcement were also mixed:

(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 30-YEAR-OLD TOURIST AND PARENT OF ONE CHILD, GAN YUYANG (LEFT), SAYING"If there are conditions then we'd have more kids. Nowadays young people have to buy a house. This amount of pressure is already huge. And then you have to consider the cost (of the child's) education, etc. I think this sort of policy will be difficult to implement."

China abolished its decades-old one-child policy in 2016 -

and began allowing couples to have up to two children.

But the cost of raising children in Chinese cities has

deterred many couples from starting families.

The policy change includes "supportive measures" but no further details were given.

Meanwhile shares in birth- and fertility-related companies surged.

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