As the one-child policy in China approached its 30-year anniversary on Sept. 25, an internal debate could be seen playing out in the Chinese media: was the policy a good or bad thing for the country? Should or should it not be rescinded?
That was put to rest over the weekend, when population czar Li Bin gave the one-child policy the Chinese Communist Party's stamp of approval by thanking the people of China “for their support of the national course.”
“So we will stick to the family-planning policy in the coming decades,” she said.
For Reggie Littlejohn, the announcement that the policy would continue came as no surprise.
Littlejohn is president of the NGO Women’s Rights Without Frontiers and a longtime campaigner against the policy, in particular against the often coercive and cruel means used to forcefully implement it.
“It…confirm[ed] what I've said all along—China will stick with its One Child Policy for the indefinite future," Littlejohn wrote in an email to The Epoch Times.
“I mentioned at the time, and I continue to believe, that the Chinese government strategically floated the rumor that China is loosening up on the policy to coincide with the release of Chen Guangcheng and his continuing house arrest, in order to distract from that situation.”
Chen Guangcheng is a blind activist who campaigned on behalf of women who were forcefully sterilized and had their children forcefully aborted. After years of harassment he was put through a kangaroo court and jailed for four years. On Sept. 8 he was released after serving the sentence, and then put under house arrest.
Prior to the announcement to continue the policy, Xinhua, the official news agency of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), published a piece that lavished praise on the one-child policy. It stated that the Central Committee’s letter announcing the policy 30 years ago “became a milestone in China’s population control and birth control,” and that the birth control policy “effectively curbed the overly rapid population growth, and in turn promoted economic development, societal progress and improvement of people’s livelihood.”
The People’s Daily, another state mouthpiece, struck a different tone, arguing that China’s population growth is facing an unprecedentedly complex situation. It said the country’s population remains huge, its demographic profile needs to be improved, and the gender ratio of newborns is highly unbalanced.
Reflecting on Damage Done
The 30-year anniversary of the one-child policy was an opportunity for foreign observers to look back at the legacy it has wrought over the years.
On Sept. 24, outside the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., Congressman Chris Smith led a news conference to that end.
Congressman Smith described it as “a cruel and inhumane policy, a human rights violation that is, in scope and seriousness, the worst human rights abuse in the world today.”
Ke Chengping, a woman from Shanghai and victim of the policy, spoke at the event. During her factory’s annual physical exam, Ke had found that she was pregnant. She had begged the staff at the Birth Control Office to allow her to keep the baby, but instead she was immediately hospitalized for a forced abortion.
A doctor performed the operation with no anesthetic, and sterilized her via inserting a sterilization device without seeking her permission. Ke said she was deeply traumatized by the experience.
Apart from individual harm, the policy and its coercive implementation have created numerous social problems, critics say. They point to the badly skewed ratio of males and females, the 500 female suicides in China per day, and the rise in sex-trafficking because Chinese males lack female partners.