The United Nations says it chose China as the site of the Fourth World Conference on Women because it was Asia’s turn to host the conference and, supposedly, China was the only Asian nation to apply. Clearly, China was not chosen for its world’s worst record of ongoing mass violence against families, women, and their children.
China, a U.N. member state since the founding of the U.N. in l945, is a signatory to the U.N.’s Charter which commits nations to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…”
Despite those pious words, China has an appalling record of civil rights abuses, including its infamous “family planning” programs. The nation’s “one child per family” policies are entrenched in Chinese law with stringent population quotas to be met, or else. Since 1979, the “or else” involves a number of incentives and disincentives to meet the government’s population targets, enforced by sterilization and abortion. When a Chinese woman accepts the one child per family program, the reward is that both she and her husband may keep their jobs and housing, and the community in which they live will suffer no penalties. If a Chinese woman defies the country’s family planning laws by getting pregnant a second time, she and her family will be “visited” by their government-appointed village watchdog.
If the mother does not comply by having an abortion after this visit, village friends and co-workers will be used to convince her to yield. If this does not work, the mother is dragged away for a forced abortion (no matter the gestational age of the unborn child), and then sterilized after her child is killed. China aborts 10.5 million of its citizens every year.
China specialist John Aird tells of newly imposed regulations in certain provinces which require married couples to obtain a child-bearing license before they will be allowed to have a child.
Nonetheless, China’s leaders are proud of their population control program and many Western nations not only applaud and fund China’s efforts, but even encourage other nations, whom they deem to be “overpopulated,” to adopt similar enforced programs.
Chinese Women: A Silent Presence
The suffering borne by Chinese women was scarcely mentioned during the entire Women’s Conference. On the opening day, in remarks assumed to be directed at China, Mrs. Hillary Clinton stated that it was a “violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.”
The Chinese government in reply told America to clean its own house first, a reference to U.S.—funded population control programs. (During his first week in office, President Clinton reinstated U.S. funding of the UN. Family Planning Fund and International Planned Parenthood.)
The only other mention of women’s suffering in China came in the second week of the conference when an unidentified Chinese woman somehow slipped through security with a personal letter to a Western journalist. Wisely, she got away before the TV crews could find here; she would have suffered terrible repercussions otherwise. Her letter in part asked: “How can this be a world women’s conference when Chinese women aren’t allowed to participate and how can we tell the world what Chinese women have to suffer here?”
The conferences Chinese Organizing Committee (COC) retorted that “many Chinese women are participating in the conference and at the NGO Forum.” What wasn’t public knowledge was that those Chinese women attending were hand-picked party faithful. No one else would have been allowed.
Non-governmental Chinese organizations attending the Conference, such as the 5000-member All-China Women’s Federation, do not exist independent of government control. The COC itself was under the direct control of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee. The president of the ACWF headed China’s official delegation, which in turn reported to the CCP Central Committee, In short, all roads led to government control and there was no such thing as freedom of speech or expression allowed Chinese participants.
A Human Rights Watch Report put it this way: “Chinese women at the [Conference] will be united in their public support for their governments platform.” And that’s exactly the way it was. If one could ignore the barricades, the soldiers, the 24-hour “under cover” security guards in the halls on every hotel floor, and only listened to the Chinese news reports and read the glossy “women’s rights in China” brochures, everything seemed and looked quite “normal.”
At the Conference’s conclusion, China, as usual, agreed on paper to implement the recommendations of the conference, including those allowing freedom in family planning decisions. But of course China has no intention of changing anything or stopping its human rights abuses. Certainly not until the country’s population targets have been reached, if ever.
At the 1994 U.N. Population Conference held in Cairo. China proudly submitted a 44-page national report prepared by its State Family Planning Commission. In the report, lip service was given to “prohibiting any form of coercion” in carrying out the national population program. And yet the very next line stated that “good use should be made of the incentive mechanisms, giving preferential treatment and incentives to families that practice family planning, while applying appropriate disincentives to families with too many children.”
The world now knows what lengths China will go to in applying “appropriate disincentives.” China’s population targets will be met on the backs of women and upon the bodies of their unborn children.