Biden to China: “Not Second-Guessing” One-Child Policy

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 22, 2011   |   1:05PM   |   Beijing, China

Vice-President Joe Biden is in China to attempt to revive the financial image of the United States after a first-ever downgrade in its financial rating. In attempting to explain some of the financial concerns the U.S. faces, Biden failed to criticize China’s one-child policy.

The one-child policy, instituted by the Communist government in the late 1970s to stem rising population, compels couples in urban areas to have just one child and limits couples in rural areas to two children if the first child is a girl, as girls are seen as having lesser value than boys in some parts of the Asian nation.

The policy has stirred global controversy since it was implemented, as it has resulted in massive campaigns of forced abortions and sterilizations, fines for families violating the rule, sentences to prison and forced labor camps for violators and their families who shelter them from government officials, home detention, loss of jobs or government benefits, beatings and other human rights abuses.

In his statement, Biden talked about the other set of concerns about the one-child policy — demographic — in that China will increasingly have similar problems to the United States in terms of paying for entitlements to the growing number of people retiring who will need government support to make ends meet and a smaller population of younger workers able to take care of those obligations.

“But as I was talking to some of your leaders, you share a similar concern here in China.  You have no safety net,” Biden said in the prepared remarks. “Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family.  The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people.  Not sustainable.”

“So hopefully we can act in a way on a problem that’s much less severe than yours, and maybe we can learn together from how we can do that,” he continued.

Although he highlighted the demographic concerns, his statement that the United States is “not second-guessing” the forced-abortion, one-child policy and his essentially ignoring the forced abortions, sterilizations and other human rights abuses that accompany it, will surely upset pro-life advocates who have campaigned extensively against the one-child policy and supported the victims of it.

House Speaker John Boehner issued a statement responding to Biden’s comments:

“I’m deeply troubled by the comments reportedly made by the Vice President yesterday regarding China’s reprehensible one-child policy, which has resulted in forced sterilizations and coerced abortions and should not be condoned by any American official. No government on Earth has the authority to place quotas on the value of innocent human life, or to treat life as an economic commodity that can be regulated and taken away on a whim by the state. I hope and trust that the Vice President didn’t actually say what has been reported, and that a correction or clarification from the White House will be forthcoming. The Obama administration should be focusing on jobs for the American people, not encouraging foreign governments to utilize abortion as a means of population and deficit control.”

Meanwhile, Reggie Littlejohn, the president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, a human rights group that monitors the policy and supports victims of it, responded to Biden’s comments in the speech in comments to LifeNews. She applauded Biden for recognizing the untenable nature of the one-child policy but blamed him for not deriding its forced-abortion component.

“Biden was correct to point out that China’s One Child Policy is not sustainable because a dwindling young population cannot support their increasingly elderly population – the “senior tsunami” which threatens to overwhelm the nation,” she said. “China will become old before it becomes rich.  The One Child Policy was instituted for economic reasons.  It’s ironic that through this very policy, China has written it’s own economic, demographic death sentence.”

Littlejohn added that it is “disappointing” for her that Biden did not address the human rights abuses under the policy, saying Biden should “mention the severe women’s rights atrocities that are committed in the name of the One Child Policy – forced abortion, involuntary sterilization and gendercide.”

“China’s One Child Policy causes more violence to women and girls than any other official policy on earth,” Littlejohn said. “To merely mention the economic consequences is to turn a blind eye to the terrible human suffering caused by forced abortion.   Chinese women are literally dragged out of their homes, strapped to tables and forced to abort.”

“The Chinese Communist Party boasts that it has “prevented” 400 million births through the One Child Policy.    That’s greater than the entire population of the United States.  Most of the births “prevented” are girls.  There’s an entire nation of women not living in China today because of gendercide – the sex-selective abortion of baby girls.  This gendercide gives rise to human trafficking and sexual slavery, within China and from many surrounding nations,” Littlejohn explained

Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council, a pro-life group, also criticized Biden upon hearing of his remarks, saying Biden “felt the need to assure his hosts he wasn’t actually criticizing them, merely saying we need to work together to fix it.”

“Of course Joe Biden has no problem with the policy – he supported it throughout his time in public office, voting continuously for funding for the UN Population Fund,” McClusky said. “Hundreds of millions of Chinese women have been forced to have abortions.  China’s unborn children who are tested and found to be female are at special risk. Nor is this heinous policy limited to the unborn. Female infanticide is routine in rural China.”

“UNFPA was defunded throughout the George W. Bush Administration, but funding was restored when President Obama took office.  Since then, $105 million in taxpayer funds have been allocated for UNFPA despite their participation in China’s brutal policy.  Cutting off funding to UNFPA will save money, but more importantly it will save lives,” he added.

The speech represents a second missed opportunity for the Obama administration to present a clear position against the policy that is one of the most egregious global human rights abuses in modern times.

Biden’s comments follow a visit earlier this year from China President Hu Jintao, where President Barack Obama apparently failed to ask the foreign leader about the problem of forced abortions on Chinese women. Ask during a U.S. House hearing, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton couldn’t say whether Obama brought up the massive human rights abuse millions of Chinese women endure if they break the country’s one-child family planning rules.

In remarks received from New Jersey Republican Congressman Chris Smith’s office following the hearing, Smith let Clinton know in a statement he delivered during the hearing that China’s one-child policy is a problem.

“Since 1979, brothers and sisters have been illegal in China as part of the barbaric one child per couple policy. And for 30 years, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has vigorously supported, funded, defended, promoted, even celebrated these massive crimes against humanity,” Smith told Clinton. “The uncontested facts are these: Any Chinese, Tibetan, or Uyghur mother without a birth permit is put under coercive pressure to abort – if need be, she is physically forced to do so. All unwed moms are compelled to abort. In what can only be described as a search-and-destroy mission, disabled children are aborted as part of a nationwide eugenics program.”