(by Patrick Goodenough, Sept. 20, 2005, CNSNews.com) – Washington’s decision to withhold funding for a U.N. agency for the fourth consecutive year because of links to controversial population control practices in China comes at a time when Chinese authorities are trying to focus more attention on incentives rather than punishment for enforcing its “one child” policies.
Punishments for couples who have more than their allotted number of children do continue, however — and pro-life campaigners are not the only ones saying so.
Over the summer, a senior Chinese “family planning” official told a press conference in Beijing that the government would try to place more emphasis on rewarding compliance its population control policy, while continuing to impose fines on violators.
The state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the deputy head of China’s national population and family planning commission, Pan Guiyu, as saying the three-decade long policy would “exist and remain unchanged for a long time to come,” and be firmly carried out.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a weekend statement that the U.S., since 2002, had “continuously called on China to ends its program of coercive abortion.”
It has also repeatedly urged China and the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) to restructure the agency’s programs so as to enable the U.S. to provide funding, he said.
“Since no key changes have taken place,” the UNFPA would again this year miss out on American funding.
The U.S. is prohibited by law (“the Kemp-Kasten amendment”) from supporting any agency that “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”
In an attempt to curb population growth, Beijing permits most couples to have just one child each. Exceptions are made for parents in specific geographic and ethnic categories, but restrictions still apply.
Although Pan’s reported comments did not include references to coercive abortion, experts say that the fines — known by the euphemism “social compensation fees” — can and do prompt poor Chinese to seek abortions.
Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Arthur Dewey told a congressional hearing last December that evidence obtained by the State Department “clearly showed us that the large fees and penalties for out-of-plan births assessed in implementing China’s regulations are tantamount to coercion that leads to abortion.”
China’s policy also indirectly promotes abortion in another way: In a society that favors boy children for both cultural and economic reasons, couples expecting a girl but only allowed one child may be more likely to abort the girl in the hope the next pregnancy will produce a boy.
That sex-selective abortions are happening frequently is evident by an increasingly skewed ratio of boys to girls. The ratio in China is now nearly 120 boys to every 100 girls, compared to the international norm of 103-107 boys for every 100 girls.
Evidence of more direct coercion has been unearthed by researchers and investigators who in recent years have obtained testimonies of forced abortions and even cases of infanticide by Chinese population control officials.
“China’s birth planning law and policies retain harshly coercive elements in law and practice,” Dewey told lawmakers in December.
“Forced abortion and sterilization are egregious violations of human rights, and should be of concern to the global human rights community, as well as to the Chinese themselves. Unfortunately, we have not seen willingness in other parts of the international community to stand with us on these human rights issues.”
Both China and the UNFPA deny the U.S. allegations.
The UNFPA says that in the 32 Chinese counties where it operates, it pushes for women to have access to a wider ranger of contraceptives, and that the number of abortions and maternal deaths has been dropping.
UNFPA executive director Thoraya Obaid said in a statement the U.S. decision was “disheartening because it contradicts clear evidence that UNFPA works hard to end coercion by proving the efficacy and superiority of the voluntary approach to family planning over any other alternative.”
Strong reaction came from other organizations, including the NGO Population Action International, whose representative Terri Bartlett accused President Bush of acting to “satisfy those in the most extreme wing of his political party.”
Pro-life lawmaker Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) praised the administration’s decision, accusing the UNFPA of “shamelessly supporting and whitewashing terrible crimes against humanity.”
“If only UNFPA would lobby the Chinese government to prohibit forced abortion as aggressively as they lobby the United States to overturn the law against coercion, there would be less suffering in China right now,” he said in a statement.
Last Friday, China’s population and family planning minister Zhang Weiqing said the population control policy would continue, adding that if it had not existed the country would have 400 million more people than it does now.
He also said China should continue to improve its population laws, in a bid “to eliminate practices that hurt people’s legal rights and interests,” Xinhua reported.
Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews.com. Visit the website at www.cnsnews.com.
1. Define the following: incentive (para. 1), euphemism (10), implementing (11), tantamount (11), coercion (11), egregious (16), efficacy (19)
2. What is China’s “One Child” policy? Why did China institute this policy? For how many years has it been in effect? Who is Pan Guiyu? When did he say China will end the One Child policy?
3. China says they emphasize rewarding compliance to the One Child policy. If the Chinese people agreed with the policy, do you think the Chinese government would be rewarding compliance? Explain your answer.
4. How has the U.S. under President Bush reacted to China’s One Child policy? How does this differ from President Clinton’s stand on the issue? (For an article condemning the one child policy and explaining President Clinton’s beliefs, click here.)
The main reason for supporting China’s One Child policy, and other population control methods around the world is that without them, supporters believe that there would be catastrophic consequences from overpopulation. How does Stephen Moore (in the article linked to) refute this belief?
5. What is the UNFPA? Re-read the statement of the UNFPA’s director in para. 19. How would you respond?
6. How is the one child law generally enforced in China today? (What happens when a woman becomes pregnant with a second baby?) Who in China are the victims of forced abortion, forced sterilization and infantacide? The Chinese government denies this, and proponents of ‘population control’ ignore it. How do we know these human rights violations are true? What should we do about it?
7. How is China’s One Child policy responsible for the death of many baby girls?
8. Do you support or oppose China’s One Child policy? How would you refute the argument of people who disagree with you?