China’s Population Control Programs Still Use Forced Abortions, Torture

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 14, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

China’s Population Control Programs Still Use Forced Abortions, Torture

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 14, 2004

Washington, DC ( — A hearing conducted Tuesday by a committee in the U.S. House of Representatives focused on the continued abuses that take place in China. The Asian country’s population control program still relies on forced abortions, coercive sterilizations, and other human rights abuses to curb population growth.

The House International Relations Committee spent considerable time discussing the plight of Mao Hengfeng, a Chinese woman who lost her job and was pressured to have an abortion after she became pregnant.

She continues to be tortured in a governmental prison because she refuses to relent from her position against China’s population control policies.

Representative Christopher Smith, a New Jersey Republican, told the committee that Mao’s "is the most egregious example of China’s mistreatment of women who do not comply with China’s draconian policies, but there are thousands of other victims.”

"The torture of Mao Hengfeng demonstrates that China’s drive to control its population growth at any cost to the Chinese people is as strong and dangerous as ever," Smith added.

Michael Kozak, a State Department assistant secretary, said Mao’s case highlights the problems in the Chinese system: coersion of abortion or sterilization, the use of forced labor camps, forced imprisonment, and the use of psychiatric hospitals and torture.
Mao has been bound hand and foot and suspended in midair and has been repeatedly subjected to abuse and beatings, according to Human Rights in China (HRIC).

"HRIC’s sources say camp police bound Mao’s wrists and ankles with leather straps, and then proceeded to pull her limbs in separate directions, while demanding that she acknowledge wrongdoing," the group added.

Smith indicated he is worried the torture would lead to Mao’s death.

Meanwhile, Arthur Dewey, another State Department assistant secretary, told the committee that some changes in China’s policy are showing signs of encouragement.

"We believe China’s population policies, including the so-called ‘one-child’ policy, are undergoing an assessment and evaluation with the Chinese leadership," he explained.

He indicated that provincial legislation in 25 of China’s 31 provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions has been amended to eliminate the requirement that married couples must obtain government permission — through so-called "birth permits" — before the woman becomes pregnant.

"This may prove to be an important change," Dewey said. "Without birth permits there may be no effective overall mechanism for systematically enforcing birth targets and quotas in each county."

Despite some changes, House members were told that China continues to face a staggeringly abnormal male-female ratio as Chinese families opt for abortions when ultrasounds reveal a girl baby.

Rural Chinese often kill newborn infant girls as men are preferred to work farms and carry on the family line.

The one-child policy has certainly contributed to the stark gender imbalance in China, which, according to the 2000 census, was about 117 males to 100 females. For second births, the national ratio was about 152 to 100.

Harry Wu, a Chinese human rights activist, also testified before the House panel.

He cited documents showing that Chinese family planning officials would see their salaries cut drastically if they did not meet sterilization and abortion quotas.

"Party secretaries and village heads who failed to fulfill this task would have their salaries cut by half, and other responsible cadres would suffer the withholding of their entire salary," Wu said of governmental and population control officials.

For the fourth consecutive year in a row, President Bush has blocked millions of taxpayer dollars from going to the United Nations Population Fund, because of the agency’s support for China’s population control program

The Bush administration announced in October that it will divert the $34 million allocated to the U.N. group to a USAID program that provides health care for poor women and children in other countries and for a program that combats the sexual trafficking of women.

Smith pointed out that representatives of the UNFPA did not appear before the committee.

"Missing from this impressive lineup is the UNFPA," Smith said.

"Despite numerous credible forced abortion reports from impeccable sources, including human rights organizations like Amnesty International, journalists, former Chinese population control officials and, above all, from the women victims themselves, high officials at UNFPA always dismiss and explain it all away," he explained.

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