Africa, Global Health and Human Rights Subcommittee
Excerpts of Remarks by Chairman Chris Smith
July 9, 2012
China’s one child policy in effect since 1979 is state sponsored murder and constitutes massive crimes against humanity. The Nuremberg Nazi war crimes tribunal properly construed forced abortion as a crime against humanity—nothing in human history compares to the magnitude of China’s 33 year assault on women and children.
Abortion is a weapon of mass destruction. Millions have been exterminated.
Today in China, rather than being given maternal care, pregnant women without birth allowed permits are hunted down and forcibly aborted. They are mocked, belittled and humiliated.
In recent days, the exploitation and forced abortion at seven months of Feng Jianmei has sparked global outrage -- and deep concern for her welfare and that of the women of China (In early July, the European Parliament “strongly condemned” China’s one child and forced abortion policy). While Feng remains in a hospital—she calls it a prison—her husband, Deng, has been beaten. Feng’s gross mistreatment however is far too commonplace.
Feng Jianmei was forced to undergo an abortion on June 2nd, seven months into her pregnancy. Media reports indicate that local officials in northwestern Shaanxi Province held Ms. Feng for three days, blindfolded, and coerced her to consent to the abortion. Even with the supposed consent, it took five men to hold her down and administer the drug that induced the 48-hour labor. The injection was given directly to the child’s head.
Ms. Feng’s husband, Deng, posted graphic photos of his wife and the dead baby online, embarrassing the government. Deng Jicai, Mr. Deng’s sister, said her brother and sister-in-law had refrained from speaking to media but decided to speak to German reporters who traveled to Shaanxi when the government did not produce investigation results as promised.
Ms. Deng reported to the media that the local government organized a backlash against the family members, calling them traitors and keeping them under surveillance, apparently angered over the family's contacts with journalists. Local residents took a long bus ride to the hospital where Ms. Feng was recovering from the abortion and demonstrated with banners reading, “beat the traitors soundly and expel them from Zengjia township!” Family members claim that the demonstration seemed to be a campaign organized and funded by the local authorities but made to look like a spontaneous public gesture. Mr. Deng reportedly also was beaten and labeled a traitor for speaking out about the crime.
The China Daily reported that there was no legal basis for the fine of $6,300 for the second pregnancy that Ms. Feng refused to pay. The local government also has admitted that Ms. Feng’s legal rights were violated. Publicity surrounding the forced abortion prompted the firing of two local officials and warnings or demerits being issued against five others.
Mr. Deng escaped from the hospital where both he and his wife were being forcibly detained. He traveled to Beijing and hired a lawyer to sue the local government. Mr. Deng’s location is now unknown, but it is believed that he is in hiding. Ms. Feng is still being held at the hospital.
The lawyer, Zhang Kai, said recently that he has sent a legal request on behalf of Feng’s husband, Deng Jiyuan, asking local police and prosecutors to investigate criminal infractions in the case. Deng also is seeking unspecified compensation from the government, Zhang said.
The widespread circulation of the photos posted by Mr. Deng has prompted renewed debate in China and the world regarding the one-child policy, possibly including within the government itself. Researchers with a center affiliated with China's State Council, the equivalent of China's cabinet, argued in an essay published in the China Economic Times newspaper on July 3, 2012, that China should adjust the one-child policy "as soon as possible" to head off a potential demographic crisis.
The Wall Street Journal on July 6th also reported that a group of prominent Chinese scholars issued an open letter on Thursday calling for a rethink of the country's one-child policy. The group argued that the policy in its current form is incompatible with China's increasing respect for human rights and need for sustainable economic development. The letter comes less than a month after Feng’s photo and story ignited public anger.
"The birth-approval system built on the idea of controlling population size as emphasized in the current 'Population and Family Planning Law' does not accord with provisions on the protection of human rights contained in the nation's constitution," the authors of Thursday's letter wrote, adding that a rewriting of the law was "imperative."
The list of signatories to Thursday's letter included several high-profile figures, including Beijing University sociologist Li Jianxin and Internet entrepreneur James Liang. "This is a time during which people all over the world have realized there are problems with the [one-child] policy," Mr. Liang, the co-founder and chief executive of Chinese online travel site Ctrip.com, told The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Liang, who has spent the past five years pursuing a Ph.D. in economics at Stanford University and just published a book challenging the notion that China has too many people, said he has felt a recent opening up of discussion around the one-child policy.
Mr. Liang, who advocates a complete dismantling of the family-planning system rather than a two-child system put forward by others, said he initially became interested in the one-child policy when he came across research showing that innovation and entrepreneurship are dominated by young people. He said he feared a shrinking of the population of young people would hamper the country's efforts to evolve beyond being merely the world's factory. "From an economic perspective, the one-child policy is irrational. From a human-rights perspective, it's even less rational," Mr. Liang said.
Today we will hear testimony from Guo Yangling, who like Feng, will tell us how she suffered a brutalizing late term forced abortion:
“Heading out to buy breakfast… I was stopped by an older woman in her 50s who asked me if I had a “birth permit.” I said no… Then, two staff members from the Family Planning Commission came and asked me where I was from, where I lived and what my name was… I tried to walk away but they wouldn't let me go…‘Help, somebody!’ But no one came to help. Then two vans arrived, their doors opened and people sitting inside… ‘Get in quickly.’ I refused and said, ‘I don't know who you are, why you are asking me to get into your vehicle and where you are taking me?’ They said, ‘You will know after you get in’…On the road, in an attempt to save my baby who would soon be arriving in this world, I reached my hand for the van door. They grabbed me and held me down on the van floor, yanking my hair and trampling my limbs and body… I screamed again ‘murder,’ only to have a cloth used to wipe cars stuffed into my mouth… I got out, I was brought to the second floor of the building. There, I saw a number of female victims sitting on the benches in the corridor, their eyes filled with tears of anxiety, terror and sadness…a woman dressed in white and wearing a surgical mask told me to get on the delivery bed immediately. I refused, so they pinned me down on the bed by force. After the person in white pressed my belly with her hands and felt the position of my baby's head, she stuck a big, long, fatal needle deep into my abdomen… By then, my unborn baby had already been murdered and I lost heart.”
This is the grim reality of the one child per couple policy. As we have known for three decades, there are no single moms in China—except those who somehow evade the family planning cadres and conceal their pregnancy. For over three decades, brothers and sisters have been illegal; a mother has absolutely no right to protect her unborn baby from state sponsored violence.
The price for failing to conform to the one child per couple policy is staggering. A Chinese woman who becomes pregnant without a permit will be put under mind-bending pressure to abort. She knows that “out-of-plan” illegal children are denied education, health-care, and marriage, and that fines for bearing a child without a birth permit can be 10 times the average annual income of two parents, and those families that can’t or won’t pay are jailed, or their homes smashed in, or their young child is killed. If the brave woman still refuses to submit, she may be held in a punishment cell, or, if she flees, her relatives may be held and, very often, beaten. Group punishments will be used to socially ostracize her--her colleagues and neighbors will be denied birth permits. If the woman is by some miracle still able to resist this pressure, she may be physically dragged to the operating table and forced to undergo an abortion.
Her trauma, like Feng and Guo, is incomprehensible. It is a trauma she shares, in some degree, with every woman in China, whose experience of intimacy and motherhood is colored by the atmosphere of fear. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports staggering 500 female suicides per day in China. China is the only country in the world where the female suicide rate is higher than the male, and according to the Beijing Psychological Crisis Study and Prevention Center, in China the suicide rate for females is three times higher than for males.
The result of this policy is a nightmarish “brave new world” with no precedent in human history, where women are psychologically wounded, girls fall victim to sex-selective abortion (in some provinces 140 boys are born for every 100 girls), and most children grow up without brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles or cousins.
Over the years I have chaired 37 congressional human rights hearings focused in whole or in part on China’s one child policy. At one, the principal witness, Wuijan, a Chinese student attending a US university testified about how her child was forcibly murdered by the government. She said, “[T]he room was full of moms who had just gone through a forced abortion. Some moms were crying. Some moms were mourning. Some moms were screaming. And one mom was rolling on the floor with unbearable pain.” Then Wuijan said it was her turn, and through her tears she described what she called her “journey in hell.”
At another hearing, a woman who was the director of a family planning clinic in Fujian said that by day she was a monster, by night a wife and mother of one.
Women bear the major brunt of the one child policy not only as victimized mothers. Due to the male preference in China’s society and the limitation of the family size to one child, the policy has directly contributed to what is accurately described as gendercide—the deliberate extermination of a girl—born or unborn—simply because she happens to be a girl.
As a result of the Chinese government’s barbaric attack on mothers and their children, there are some tens of millions of missing daughters in China today. It has been noted that the three most dangerous words in China today are: “it’s a girl!”
Because of the missing girls—China today has become the human sex trafficking magnate of the world. Women and young girls from outside the country are being sold as commodities throughout China—a direct consequence of the one child policy.
I am the author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, a comprehensive law to prevent trafficking, prosecute traffickers and protect victims.
One provision of the law requires an annual assessment of every country. According to this year’s TIP Report released on June 19th:
“China’s birth limitation policy, coupled with a cultural preference for sons, creates a skewed sex ratio in China, which served as a key cause of trafficking of foreign women as brides for Chinese men and for forced prostitution.”
“The government took no discernible steps to address the role that its birth limitation policy plays in fueling human trafficking in China, with gaping gender disparities resulting in a shortage of female marriage partners. The government failed to take any steps to change the policy; and in fact, according to the Chinese government, the number of foreign female trafficking victims in China rose substantially in the reporting period. The Director of the Ministry of Public Security’s Anti-Trafficking Task Force stated in the reporting period that “[t]he number of foreign women trafficked to China is definitely rising” and that “great demand from buyers as well as traditional preferences for boys in Chinese families are the main culprits fueling trafficking in China.”
A June 26th op-ed in the People’s Daily—the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party—shed light on the emerging demographic catastrophe that is China.
The article titled “Leftover men to be a big problem” admits that there is a “bachelors” crisis that will “trigger a moral crisis of marriage and family” and the “continual accumulation of the number of unmarried men will greatly increase the risk of social instability.”
At a congressional hearing I chaired last September BYU Professor Valerie Hudson, author of Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population, testified that “by year 2020 young adult bare branches—ages 15-34 will number approximately 23-25 million…the foremost repercussions will be an increase in societal instability, marked increases in crime, crimes against woman…and the formation of gangs…”
Nicholas Eberstadt, a world renowned demographer asks, “What are the consequences for a society that has chosen to become simultaneously, more gray and more male.”
In her assessment for security and potential war, Professor Hudson testified “faced with worsening instability at home, and an unsolvable economic decline at home (as China ages) China’s government may well be tempted to use foreign policy to ‘ride the tiger’ of domestic instability. The twin themes of anti-Japanese feeling and unfulfillment of China’s reunification with Taiwan will be deeply resonant to much of the population of China. In the next two or three decades, we are likely to see observable security ramifications of the masculinization of China’s growing young adult population, especially combined with an understanding of the consequences of global aging…”
Last August Vice President Joe Biden visited China, and told the audience that he was well aware of and “fully understood” the one child policy, and that he was not “second guessing” the State for imposing it. Can you imagine what the public reaction would be if the Vice President had said that he “fully understands” and is not “second guessing” copyright infringement and gross violations of intellectual property rights?
The one child per couple policy is the most egregious, vicious attack on women ever. For the Vice President of the United States to publicly state that he fully understands the one child policy and then say he won't second guess it is unconscionable, and sells out every mom in the PRC.
Although Vice President Biden attempted to modestly backtrack on his extraordinarily callous comment about the policy, his voting record as a Senator shines a spotlight on his long-held disregard for the severity of this human rights violation. On September 13, 2000, he joined 52 other senators in defeating an amendment by then-Senator Jessie Helms condemning the one-child policy. Then-Senator Biden reportedly did so because he was concerned that condemning China on fundamental human rights would interfere with the normalization of trade relations.
Not only is the Obama Administration turning a blind eye to the atrocities being committed under the one child policy, but it is even contributing financial support – contrary to U.S. law – to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Twenty eight years ago—on May 9, 1984—I authored the first amendment ever to a foreign aid bill to deny funding to organizations such as the UNFPA that are complicit with China's forced abortion and involuntary sterilization policy. It passed. After all these years, it is astonishing that policy makers—including and especially the Obama Administration—remain indifferent or worse, supportive, of these massive crimes against women and children. The Obama Administration has long enabled this cruel policy by its silence and financial support to the tune of over $165 million a year to the UNFPA, an organization that supports, plans, implements, defends and whitewashes the Chinese government’s brutal program.
On one of several trips to Beijing, I challenged Peng Peiyun—then China’s director of the nation’s population control program—to end the coercion. Madame Peng told me that the UNFPA was very supportive of the one child per couple program and that the UNFPA adamantly agrees with her that the program is voluntary and that coercion doesn’t exist.
For over 30 years, the UNFPA has consistently heaped praise on China’s population control program and repeatedly urged other countries to embrace similar policies.
A few years ago, the UNFPA and the Chinese government rolled out the red carpet and hosted high level diplomats from Africa including health ministers to sell “child limitation” policies. Despite the fact that China’s enforcement mechanism relies on heavy coercion and its aging population will soon implode its economy, some African leaders seem to have taken the bait. Limitations on the number of children a mother may carry to term are under active consideration throughout the subcontinent.
And the UNFPA has tried to impose China-like child limitation policies on other nations as well, including the Philippines.
Finally, in 2000, I wrote a law—The Admiral James W. Nance and Meg Donovan Foreign Relations Authorization Act for fiscal years 2000 and 2001.
Section 801 of Title VIII of that Act still in effect today requires the Secretary of State not to issue any visa to, and the Attorney General not to admit to the United States, any foreign national whom the Secretary finds, based on credible and specific information, to have been directly involved in the establishment or enforcement of forced abortion or forced sterilization.
Owing to a glaring lack of implementation, only a handful of abusers of women have reportedly been denied visas to the U.S. That must change.
Lastly I thank each of our witnesses, whom I will shortly introduce, for being here today to speak out on this important topic. I understand that your testimony today comes with serious concerns and careful foresight. The Subcommittee greatly appreciates your participation at this hearing, and we all look forward to hearing your important insights and recommendations.