Thursday, September 22, 2011

How much do you know about 'the worst human rights abuse in the world today'?

That's what Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey calls China's coercive one-child-per-couple policy. From his 2009 remarks before a U.S. House human rights commission:
Few outside of China understand what a massive and cruel system of social control the one-child policy entails. As the U.S.-China Commission summarized, the system is "marked by pervasive propaganda, mandatory monitoring of women's reproductive cycles, mandatory contraception, mandatory birth permits, coercive fines for failure to comply, and in some cases, forced sterilization and abortion."

The price for failing to conform to this system is staggering. A Chinese woman who becomes pregnant without a permit will be put under mind-bending pressure to abort. She knows that "out of plan" illegal children are denied education, health care and marriage, and that fines for bearing a child without a birth permit can be up to 10 times the average annual income of both parents, and those families that can't or won't pay are jailed or their homes are smashed in or their young child is killed.

If the brave woman still refuses to submit, she may be held in a punishment cell, or if she flees, her relatives may be held and, very often, beaten. Group punishments will be used to socially ostracize her. Her colleagues and neighbors will be denied birth permits. If the woman is, by some miracle, still able to resist this pressure, she may be physically dragged to the operating table and forced to undergo an abortion.

Her trauma is incomprehensible. It is a trauma she shares, in some degree, with virtually every woman in China, whose experience of intimacy and motherhood is colored by the atmosphere of fear created by the government, by government threats and determination to intrude itself in deadly fashion in the most private aspects of her life. The World Health Organization reports over 500 female suicides per day in China.

China is the only country in the world where female suicide rates are higher than male, and according to the Beijing Psychological Crisis Study and Prevention Center, in China the suicide rate for females is three times higher than that of males. The result of this policy is a nightmarish brave new world with no precedent in human history, where women are psychologically wounded and girls fall victim to sex selection abortion. ... [M]ost children grow up without brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles or cousins. ...

I, and we, appeal to President Obama to seriously raise the plight of Chinese women who are every day cruelly and systematically assaulted by population control police. China's population control policy is violence against women and violence against children by the hundreds of millions.

It is the worst violation of women's rights in human history. I believe it is outrageous that the Obama administration lavishly funds, to the tune of $50 million, organizations including the U.N. Population Fund that partner with China's National Population Planning Commission. Let me note very strongly that this is not a partisan issue.
Go here to read the personal testimony of one woman (among millions) victimized by China's forced abortion policy. She and her family suffered physically, psychologically and emotionally; her baby was killed by the government, and she could do nothing.

In a new Weekly Standard article, Jonathan Last explains the one-child policy, traces its history, and notes the many ways in which it is "an epic disaster" that so many of us in the Western world are either clueless about or willing to ignore or even support. He writes:
Under One-Child, couples wanting a baby were required to obtain permission from local officials first. (In 2002, the government relaxed this provision; you can now have one child without government clearance.) After having a child, urban residents and government employees were forbidden from having another, with some exceptions. In rural areas, for instance, couples were often allowed to have a second baby five years after the first. There are a total of 22 exceptions which allow Chinese to have a second child, but they tend to be narrow: 63 percent of couples are bound to a single child. Any more than two—even for the lucky exceptions—and the government institutes penalties. Sanctions range from heavy fines to confiscation of belongings to dismissal from work. There are reports of violators having the roofs of their houses removed, or their doors and windows walled shut.

And then there were the forced abortions and sterilizations. On this score, the Chinese government had help from the West. In 1979, as China prepared to roll out One-Child, the government signed an agreement with the United Nations Population Fund, which pledged $50 million to help control births—a euphemism that in practice meant groups of government workers rounding up pregnant women and forcing them to have abortions. The U.N.'s presence opened the door for other Western organizations, including the Ford Foundation and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which poured resources into China in an effort to kill babies. These groups were not unaware of what was happening. The IPPF's Benjamin Viel wrote admiringly, "Persuasion and motivation [are] very effective in a society in which social sanctions can be applied against those who fail to cooperate in the construction of the socialist state." ...

All of which brings us to the practical problems of One-Child. ... [T]he country is now on the brink of radical population shrinkage. By 2050, China will be losing, on net, 20 million people every five years.

And whatever effect One-Child had on China's fertility rate, it also produced two unexpected changes in the country’s demographic profile.

First, One-Child created an enormous sex imbalance in the population. In nature, 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. But in China (and other Asian countries) there is a strong cultural preference for sons. Once Chinese were limited to one or, at most, two children, it became enormously important to parents that their one child be a male heir. The combination of ultrasound technology, which allowed sex-determination in utero, with industrial-scale abortion created an atmosphere in which it was thoroughly routine for mothers to abort female babies. This practice has become so widespread in China that there are a mind-boggling 123 boys born for every 100 girls. ...

China's sex imbalance means that the country has a large cohort of men for whom marriage will be a statistical impossibility. By the late 2020s nearly one in five Chinese men will be "surplus males." This has all sorts of cultural consequences—increased violence and political instability historically attend gender imbalances. But from a demographic standpoint, it means that China's already low fertility rate is functionally lower than it looks—because of the sex disparity among children who are born, many fewer than half will be females who have the opportunity to reproduce.

The other unintended consequence is that One-Child has radically altered China's age structure, giving it many more old people than young. In 2005, the country's median age was 32-years-old. By 2050, it will be 45-years-old, and a full quarter of the populace will be over 65. That means 330 million senior citizens, most of whom will have little or no family to care for them.

China has no pension system to speak of and will have only 2 workers per retiree—which isn't much of a tax base from which to build one. The age ratio may cause a labor shortage, too: In the next 10 years, the number of Chinese aged 20 to 24 will drop by 45 percent. All age-cohorts will shrink, except among the elderly. It is a looming demographic catastrophe—[Demographer Nicholas] Eberstadt calls it a "slow-motion humanitarian tragedy." All of these problems are as obvious as they are unavoidable; yet they are rarely acknowledged in the West.
Read all of Last's piece.