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Heedless of Demographic Dangers, Beijing Pushes Ahead with One-Child Policy

December 22, 2000
Volume 2/ Number 22

Dear Colleague:

Disappointing human rights activists, the Beijing regime has declared that its notorious poplation control policy will be continued into the Twenty-First Century. The one-child policy, as it is called, has produced an enormous slaughter of the innocents, widespread suffering among women, and a huge excess of men. Not only China, but China's neighbors, will one day pay a heavy price for this unnatural re-engineering of the family and society by the Chinese Communist Party.

Steven W. Mosher, President

Heedless of Demographic Dangers, Beijing Pushes Ahead with One-Child Policy

The Beijing regime, oblivious to the suffering the one-child policy has visited upon the Chinese people over the past twenty years, has now vowed to continue restricting births for another fifty. According to a just released White Paper on Population, the government's new goal is a population of 1.6 billion people by the year 2050. The one-child policy, which limits urban couples to one child and farmers to two if the first is a girl, will remain in place.

The White Paper, released this Tuesday by the State Family Planning Commission, was at pains to emphasize that these targets and quotas will be achieved by "education" and "persuasion." In the words of the report, the Chinese government will try "to persuade women to have fewer children and to bear them later in life."

As an example of the effectiveness of "education" and "persuasion," the report noted that women were putting off their first child until age 23.6 by 1998, while in 1970 they gave birth at 20.8 years. But this is disingenuous. The age at first birth has climbed in the People's Republic of China not because of "education" and "persuasion," but because women are forbidden to marry until 23, and aborted if they become pregnant out of wedlock. The birth rate has been reduced in China by re-education and coercion, up to and including forced abortion and sterilization.

The one-child policy itself is the most oppressive regime of birth control ever inflicted by a government on its people. Parents are denied the right to determine for themselves the number and spacing of their children. Women who get pregnant outside the plan are subject to threats, fines, and even brute force, abuses I witnessed while living in rural China and wrote about in my book, A Mother's Ordeal (available through PRI).

China's communist government claims that China's population must be capped to reduce poverty and lift the standard of living. But the biggest obstacle to China's economic advance is the Communist Party itself, with its bureaucratic corruption, official abuse of power, and disdain for the rule of law, especially for property rights. Blaming the Chinese people for their own poverty is blaming the victim.

The one-child policy has, in many ways, made things in China worse. The elderly are rapidly increasing as a percentage of the population, straining medical resources. Female infanticide-the killing of girl children-continues to run at epidemic levels.1

Equally seriously, the sex ratio in China is increasingly unbalanced. Demographers estimate that, because of the one-child policy and the age-old Chinese preference for sons, there are now 100 million more men than women in China.2 This is a number equivalent to the entire male population of the United States between the ages of 14 and 80. Over the next few years, this huge cohort of young males in China will gradually come of age and realize that, because of the shortage of women, they will never be able to find a bride and marry. How might these reluctant bachelors act out their frustration, discontent and anger? How might the regime move to contain their discontent by enlisting large numbers into the armed forces?

At a recent conference on Human Rights in China sponsored by PRI, labor activist Han Dongfang said that not a day goes by in China that there is not a labor protest. Growing labor unrest, an increasing number of young, unattached males, and spreading resentment against government corruption and abuses of human rights may prove to be a potent mix. The only question is whether it will be directed towards Beijing-or contained by Beijing and redirected outward.

Endnotes

1 Weekly Briefing, 7 June 2000, Vol. 2, Number 10, http://www.pop.org/briefings/ordealmothers.htm .
2 USA Today, 12/19/00, "China hopes to cap population," http://usatoday.com/news/world/nwstue06.htm

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