Human rights advocates told a congressional commission of the “terrifying” practices of China’s coercive one-child policy and lamented forced abortion as a crime against humanity. “Regardless of the number of children allowed, women who get pregnant without permission will still be dragged out of their homes, strapped down to tables, and forced to abort babies that they want,” Reggie Littlejohn, founder of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, said April 30. Littlejohn addressed the Congressional-Executive Commission on China’s hearing on population control in the Asian country. The commission is co-chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida). Although China has relaxed its one-child policy to permit couples to have a second child in some cases, Littlejohn insisted that the policy change has not solved the problem. “These minor modifications are routinely exaggerated,” she said. “The problem with the one-child policy is not the number of children ‘allowed.’ Rather, it is the fact that the Chinese Communist Party is telling women how many children they can have and then enforcing that limit through forced abortion and forced sterilization.” Others who testified at the congressional hearing included Chinese activist and lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who was imprisoned for four years in China because of his work against the one-child policy and other human rights concerns; and Chai Ling, founder of the group All Girls Allowed. Chen, who is now a senior fellow at The Catholic University of America and The Witherspoon Institute in Washington, D.C., criticized the “the bloody and brutal violence” of China’s coercive birth control policy. He characterized the policy as a “contemporary genocide” and a “horrific crime against humanity.” “Over the past 35 years, China has killed a total of 360 to 400 million young lives as a result of its inhumane and violent birth control policies,” he said. “This inhumane brutality has resulted in society becoming indifferent to life and has diminished the dignity of the human being, thus breaking down the traditional morality of Chinese society on life-and-death matters and leading to social decay,” he added. Chen said married couples must seek a permit from a local birth control committee before conceiving a child. A woman pregnant without a permit can be summoned before a local birth control office. There, a party official would “force her to sign a form of acknowledgment prior to a forced abortion, purporting that such a procedure (including sterilization) was done with her consent.” When women resist signing such forms, their relatives and neighbors are sometimes detained, the activist said. In Chen’s home village and neighboring villages, local party chiefs would lead small or large groups that would “act like bandits” in beating non-compliant villagers and holding them captive against the law, he reported. “I volunteered to help the villagers with my legal knowledge in the hope of stopping and preventing such brutal actions,” he said. “Yet, I found out the law was useless in trying to stop these violent birth control practices.” Chai Ling, the founder and president of the organization All Girls Allowed, said the one-child policy is “brutal.” She said that the goal of one child per family had once sounded “so benign and perfect” to her until she realized that it meant that “all other children must die.” Ling, who was a student leader in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, told the hearing that her Christian faith “motivates me and my team to be the arms that hold the mothers and children who would be killed by this policy and offer them love and peace.” Littlejohn also spoke further about the policy’s victims. “Some of these forced abortions have been so violent that the women themselves sometimes die along with their full-term babies,” she said. The “terrifying” nature of forced abortions contributes to mental illness and suicide among the victimized women, she added. For their part, men whose wives have been victimized have sometimes lost control and murdered family planning officials or committed suicide in protests of the massive fines for violating the one-child policy. Littlejohn said that the fines for policy violations are “an important source of revenue” for the party. They are “inconsistently applied” but can be 10 times a person’s annual salary. She believes the population control policy is in fact “social control,” as the policy also supports an “infrastructure of coercion that can be used to crush dissent of any sort.” Furthering problems is a cultural preference for baby boys — as a result, unborn baby girls in China are more likely to be victims of sex-selected voluntary abortion. The sex ratio imbalance means that 37 million men will not find wives, causing social instability and worsening sex trafficking. Littlejohn said China’s population control policy risks causing a “demographic disaster” for many reasons. Its working-age population is shrinking and faces increasing difficulty supporting elderly. Chen added that there are more than 1 million families whose only child has died, leaving the parents without support as they age. Several of the human rights advocates at the hearing made recommendations on U.S. policy. Littlejohn said the U.S. government should urge China to abolish all forms of coercive population control, offer incentives for couples to have girls and offer pensions to couples who do not have sons. She suggested that the U.S. government establish principles to ensure that U.S. corporations do not allow coercive population control measures against their employees and that the U.S. defund the United Nations Population Fund until it stops support or participation in programs of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in China. Chen urged the U.S. and the international community to stop the “inhumane cruelty of the Communist Party” and call for an international tribunal to investigate the crimes. He said the U.S. should bar the responsible Chinese officials’ entry to the U.S. and confiscate their property. “These human rights violators who act against humanity must be made accountable,” he said. Rep. Smith characterized China’s policy as “state sponsored violence against women and children.” He charged that the Obama Administration has shown a “gross failure” to enforce existing laws intended to penalize Chinese officials for the coercive policy.
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