Biden to Head Obama China Policy But Ignored Forced Abortions

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 3, 2012   |   2:14PM   |   Washington, DC

Vice President Joe Biden will take the lead in formulating a revised policy on U.S.-China relations the Obama administration wants to put into place. This comes after Biden failed to condemn the one-child policy that includes forced abortions and sterilizations.

The Atlantic reported on the latest move:

While the Departments of State and Treasury have held important functional roles in conducting the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue meetings, raising the bilateral status of US-China relations with ongoing meetings between two senior US Executive Branch officials with two of China’s most senior leaders, Vice Premier Li Keqiang and State Councillor Dai Bingguo, there has been a general sense that neither Timothy Geithner nor Hillary Clinton and her team were comprehensively driving US-China policy.  

The White House official made clear that the coming shift in the locus of US-China policy management was not a critique of either Clinton or Geithner’s management of the China portfolio — but rather, the rise of Hu Jintao heir apparent and current Vice Premier Xi Jinping as the likely next President of China created certain practical challenges in dealing with him on a same-status level throughout much of 2012 until Xi’s accession to the presidency is formalized.

Biden’s next big task will be the next phase evolution of US-China policy.

What needs to evolve is Biden and the Obama administration’s approach to the human rights abuses associated with the one-child family planning policy China has put in place.

In August, Biden, who supports abortion, was 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, upset pro-life advocates who have campaigned extensively against the one-child policy and supported the victims of it.

Reggie Littlejohn, the president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, a human rights group that monitors the policy and supports victims of it, said it was “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.”

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.”

A Biden spokeswoman eventually walked back his comments.

Kendra Barkoff told The Daily Caller in an email that Biden and the Obama administration strongly oppose the policy — but the comments are a departure from Biden’s speech, in which he said he would “not second guess” the policy and “fully understands” why China would implement it.

“The Obama Administration strongly opposes all aspects of China’s coercive birth limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization,” Barkoff told the conservative news outlet. “The Vice President believes such practices are repugnant.”

Barkoff contended Biden was attempting to critique the coercive family planning policy in his speech. While he did talk about demographic problems associated with the policy, which has put China in the position of not having enough people to sustain its elderly population, Biden did not condemn the forced abortions, sterilizations or other human rights abuses women and families face in China for violating the one-child rule.

“He also pointed out, in China, that the policy is, as a practical matter, unsustainable,” Barkoff added. “He was arguing against the One Child Policy to a Chinese audience. ”