China Still Says One Child Is Enough (Chapter and Verse)
British novelist P.D. James wrote The Children of Men in 1992—a chilling story of sudden, worldwide infertility and what happens in its aftermath.
Women carefully tend baby dolls, couples “baptize” kittens, and the elderly—with no younger generation to care for them—are forced by the government to commit suicide.
Perhaps it’s time for James to write another novel—this time about what happens when a country’s government prevents its citizens from having more than one child. It would rival The Children of Men in sheer horror.
Reggie Littlejohn could help James; she’s already done the research. Littlejohn is president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers and an expert on China’s destructive one-child policy, which China’s communist leaders instituted in 1979 in order to artificially bring down China’s birthrate.
But 30 years later, we learn once again that when we attempt to violate the natural order, the consequences are predictable—if unintended. As Littlejohn noted in a speech to the EU Parliament last year, the results of China’s one-child policy have been severe, spawning “at least 10 other serious human rights violations.”
Among them, forced abortion—even in the ninth month—and forced sterilization. Many women suffer permanent damage to their health from the sterilizations, which are often performed by unqualified persons rather than trained gynecologists.
China’s leaders claim that no woman is forced to undergo an abortion. If that’s true, then why do family planning offices have cells attached to them? An illegally pregnant woman’s mother or sister or other relative is locked up and treated brutally until the pregnant woman (who may be living in hiding) “voluntarily” comes in to have her baby aborted, Littlejohn explained at the Heritage Foundation.
The one-child policy has also led directly to human trafficking and sexual slavery. China’s leaders have acknowledged that there are now some 35 million men who will never marry because their future wives were aborted. This gender imbalance “is a powerful, driving force behind trafficking in women and sexual slavery” all over Asia, Littlejohn maintains.
Forced abortions traumatize women, and are a major cause of the fact that some 500 Chinese women commit suicide every day, Littlejohn believes—the highest rate in the world. An incredible 56 percent of all female suicides worldwide occur in China.
The one-child policy has also led to “gendercide.” China’s cultural preference for boys means that couples frequently abort girls. In rural areas, where couples are often allowed to have two children if the first child is female, parents use ultrasound to determine the second baby’s sex and almost routinely abort female children. This means that in some provinces, among “second” babies, 160 or more boys are born to every 100 girls.
The policy has also led to a brisk market in stolen children—some 70,000 a year. Parents who have a girl but want a boy will steal a male infant; parents are sometimes sterilized after having one child, but if that child dies, its grieving parents may grab someone else’s infant.
Then there are the “forsaken children,” whose parents divorce and marry other people. Wishing to have a child with the new partner—and limited to having just one child—the parents “may abandon the child of their first marriage,” Littlejohn says. Then those children roam the streets, destitute. Tragically, these children are often too old to appeal to couples longing for a child (or a second child).
China is also full of “illegal” children, whose parents gave birth to them without benefit of a birth permit. China’s government refuses to give these children health care or an education. With no “official” existence, they will likely be barred from employment or marriage when they grow up.
The one-child policy has led to rioting and violence as rural Chinese rebel against the policy. Last year, in China’s Guangxi province, thousands of villagers clashed violently with police following a two-month crackdown against those who defied the one-child policy. According to the Los Angeles Times, family planning officials “chased people down the streets and into the fields.” Men and women “were rounded up for forced sterilizations” while illegally pregnant women were forcibly aborted. Police imposed heavy fines on couples who dared to have second children; those who could not pay had their valuables confiscated and their homes destroyed.
China has used the one-child policy to help “solve” other perceived problems. China has used “deception, pressure, and threats,” according to the Uyghur Human Rights Project, to transfer hundreds of thousands of young Uyghur women out of East Turkistan into other provinces, where they either become brides for Chinese men or find themselves forced into prostitution or slave labor. Meanwhile, with so many of their women taken from them, Uyghur men have increasingly difficulty forming families of their own, turning the one-child policy into a genocidal tool.
There is little the United States can do to pressure China to give up the one-child policy, which even pro-choice activists call a form of torture against women. But there are glimmers that the Obama Administration cares about this issue. A few days ago Littlejohn was invited to speak at the White House about the one-child policy. In attendance were members of the White House Council on Women and Girls, the National Security Council, the Pentagon, and the Office of the Direction of National Intelligence. “I told them that no government policy, anywhere in the world, has caused more suffering to women and girls than China’s one-child policy,” Littlejohn told me.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also spoken out forcefully on this issue. What is needed now is for Clinton to find out (as she is required by law to do) if any of the $50 million the U.S. appropriated to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was used for a country program in China—which Congress forbids. If the UNFPA has indeed spent some of these funds in China, Clinton is required to report it to Congress. The amount of the funds UNPFA spent in China would then be deducted from the funds made available to the UNFPA.
Some observers, including the Times of London, say China is moving away from its one-child policy, and even encouraging couples to have a second child. But according to Littlejohn, the title of the Times piece, “China Steps Back from One Child Policy,” is deceptive: If you don’t fall within a specific group—if you don’t live in Shanghai, for instance, where the elderly population is rapidly rising—you still need a birth permit, and the womb police will still issue a termination order for your unborn child.
Americans who have no desire to fund the on-going abuse of Chinese women and their families ought to contact the State Department and politely ask Clinton when she plans to follow through on the demands of the law.
Thirty years after the one-child policy was imposed, China’s population is aging. After 2030, Littlejohn says, “the proportion of retirees to working people will increase to the point that the shrunken youthful population will not be able to sustain the retirees in their old age.”
P.D. James’s The Children of Men gives us a chilling hint of what may be in store for aging Chinese who were prevented, by leaders who played God, from having the children they wanted.
Anne Morse is a senior writer for BreakPoint.
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