MSNBC/National Geographic Show Called Biased on China Population Policy

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 25, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

MSNBC/National Geographic Show Called Biased on China Population Policy

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
June 25, 2004

Shanghai, China ( — A recent edition of National Geographic’s Ultimate Explorer on MSNBC presented a biased look at the problems of China’s one-child policy. The program, entitled "China’s Lost Girls," will re-air June 26 at 8 PM EST on MSNBC.

"China’s notorious one-child policy has been a death sentence for a whole generation of girls," notes Stephen Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute and author of A Mother’s Ordeal: One Woman’s Fight Against China’s One-child Policy.

"Since the beginning of the one-child policy in 1981, well over a hundred million baby girls in China have died by abortion, infanticide, abandonment, and neglect," explains Mosher.

"Many were selectively aborted after ultrasound machines revealed their sex," Mosher adds. "Others were given lethal injections in the fontanel—or soft spot—as they descended in the birth canal.

Mother said female infants have been drowned or smothered as they emerged from the womb, before they had a chance to draw their first breath.

"Lisa Ling, the host … cannot bring herself to say any of this," Mosher explains.

"She does talk gingerly about how infant girls are abandoned in favor of boys but, like the Chinese government, blames this largely on the benighted Chinese peasantry and their preference for sons. The Chinese, of course, do have a preference for sons, but didn’t kill their daughters in modern times until the one-child policy came along," Mosher told

Mosher also criticized Ling for essentially avoiding the issue of coercion, well documented by PRI and other organizations.

"Women who refuse abortions are harangued, threatened, fined and, if these tactics don’t work, taken by force to clinics that the government insists are ‘voluntary,’" said Mosher.

Ling is allowed to interview a woman who pays a large fine to the Chinese government to keep a second child, a girl, instead of being forced to have an abortion. However, Mosher notes, Ling fails to say this is the exception rather than the rule.

"Even the U.S. State Department has criticized the huge fines leveled on pregnant women as ‘coercive,’ since they usually result, as they are intended to, in an abortion," Mother tells

Mosher said Ling also did not show the plight of the families who refuse to comply with the Chinese government’s demands. Their homes are often destroyed and pregnant women who flee become subjects of intense manhunts. Relatives are often imprisoned.

Mosher suggests that Ling regurgitated the Chinese government’s propaganda because "she is probably just interested in preserving her access to China for her next Ultimate Explorer show."

Like the government, she encourages foreign adoptions of Chinese babies, but neglects to mention that the state-run orphanages are so poorly managed that they have "dying rooms" where children are taken who are dying of disease and neglect.

Mosher says one of the most notable points of government propaganda appearing in the National Geographic report is a scene at a family planning clinic.

"A woman pregnant with her first child visits the clinic for an ultrasound," explains Mosher. "The family planning worker confides to the camera that the women will not be told the sex of her unborn child because, if the child was a girl, she would probably abort her child. This scene, probably staged for Ling’s benefit, is very slick. It creates the impression that the Chinese government itself is trying to prevent an abortion. But the only reason that this woman would even consider an abortion in the first place is because she and her husband are permitted only one child."

Ling doesn’t mention this nor does she comment how ultrasounds in China have become big business to help identify the sex of children so unwanted girls can be aborted.

"All the woman has to do to find out whether she is carrying a girl is go around the corner, or offer the required bribe to the ultrasound operator once and her cameras have disappeared," Mosher said.

Related Sites:
Population Research Institute –