China’s Harsh Enforcement of One-Child Policy

China’s Harsh Enforcement of One-Child Policy
A young orphaned Chinese girl sits in a crib at a foster care center in Beijing, China, on April 2, 2014. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Epoch Times has republished this article from our archives to shed light on the continuing issue of China’s one-child policy and the effect it has had over many years. This article was originally published September 27, 2011.

WASHINGTON—Pregnant women lacking birth permits are hunted down like criminals by population planning police in China and forcibly aborted. The degree of monitoring and coercion of ordinary women in their reproductive lives in communist China is shocking to persons living in the free world. In a congressional hearing chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.4), Sept. 22, several victims of communist China’s one-child policy testified to their experiences of coercion and involuntary abortion.

“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,” said Rep. Smith, who in his 30-year congressional career has chaired 29 congressional human rights hearings focused in whole or in part on China’s one-child policy.

The policy was introduced in 1978, and Chinese authorities say it will remain in place until at least 2015, said Valerie Hudson, political science professor at Brigham Young University. The regime claims the policy has prevented 400 million births from 1979 to 2011.

Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, testified to 13 new cases of coercion in a report her organization released on the day of the hearing. Littlejohn described cases of forced abortion (including one woman at eight months and another carrying twins at eight and a half months), forced sterilization, forced contraception, the use of abortion and sterilization quotas, family planning jail cells, the demolition of homes (even for missing a pregnancy check), and the use of collective punishment by demolishing homes and fining relatives of the “violators.”

State Surveillance

The close monitoring of the Family Planning Commission could be seen in the testimony of Ping Liu. In the 1980s, the practice was to have an intrauterine device (IUD) implanted after giving birth to one’s first child. But because Liu had swelling in her right kidney, the doctors did not implant the IUD; instead they said that she should use other contraceptive methods.

“Without the IUD, I became the prime target for surveillance by the factory’s Family Planning Commission,” she said. In the factory where she worked, workers monitored each other, and were suspicious and hostile to each other because of the threat of collective punishment. Two of her pregnancies were reported by her colleagues to the Family Planning Commission.

“When discovered, pregnant women would be dragged to undergo forced abortions—there simply was no other choice. We had no dignity as potential child-bearers.”

Liu said that every month during their menstrual period, women had to undress in front of the birth-planning doctor for examination. “We were allowed to collect a salary only after it was confirmed that we were not pregnant,” she said.

From 1983 to 1990, because of the one-child policy, Liu was forced to have five abortions.

Ling Chai personally testified to the situation of being pregnant and not married. She said China’s one-child policy is a “one-child per couple” policy. “It is the ‘all other children must die’ policy,” she said. The policy means most married couples will not be allowed to have more than one child and unmarried women are not allowed to have babies at all. She told how she, unmarried, became pregnant at age 18, and had no choice but to abort; in her second pregnancy she was forced to abort a second time.

In her third pregnancy, she and her boyfriend wanted to get married, but in China, that didn’t help save her child. In order to marry, the combined age of a couple must be 48.

Even if they could wed, without a birth permit, no baby was allowed, she said.

Chai’s fourth abortion shows an insidious side of the one-child policy. Chai was in Paris, and no longer faced the threat of the state’s forced abortion policy. She was married and no longer had to hide the pregnancy in shame. “Still I carried the mindset of China that abortion was the right choice if the circumstances made keeping the baby difficult,“ Chai said.

Threats Didn’t Stop Couple

Witness Yeqing Ji had one daughter and wanted very much to have a second child. Pressure also came from the husband’s family that strongly desired a son. After the birth of her daughter, she agreed to the Planning Commission to get the IUD, but she never did.

She learned at her gynecological clinic that she was pregnant. The next day, four agents from the Planning Commission visited Ji and told her she had to get an abortion. Otherwise, the couple would we fined 200,000 yuan ($31,300), which was more than three times their combined annual income. In addition, they also would be fired from their jobs. “We were very afraid at the time about losing our jobs,” and could not pay the exorbitant fee. So, she underwent an abortion.

The next time she learned she was pregnant, five planning commission agents soon came to her home, but this time she told them they were determined to have the child and would pay the fine. However, she was told the second child was forbidden.

Ji said, “Even if it was born, the child could not be registered and would not be able to attend school. More than the fines, we would be fired from our jobs with a child that would never be registered by the census. But this time we were not afraid. We were willing to take the punishment of fines and losing our jobs. It wasn’t as important to us as our child.”

Ji’s husband could not stop the agents from dragging his wife away and the abortion forced upon her. “After the abortion, I felt empty, as if something was scooped out of me. My husband and I had been so excited for our new baby. Now, suddenly, all that hope and joy and excitement had disappeared, all in an instant.”

Missing Girls and ‘Bare Branches’

China’s one-child policy is having serious demographic and social consequences. Limiting most couples to one child means there are relatively fewer youth and more aged. Dr. Hudson drew on a study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies that found the ratio of working age adults (15-59) to the elderly (60 and above) was declining, resulting in fewer workers to support the old. In 1980, the ratio was 7.7 adults to one elderly person. In 2010, the ratio is 5.4 and by 2030, it is projected to be 2.5.

Because of a traditional preference for boys in China, the one-child policy has led to “gendercide” of girls. This fact can be inferred from the lopsided sex ratios in China.

“The Chinese government states that its birth sex ratio is slightly over 118 (2010 census results), though some Chinese scholars have gone on record as stating the birth sex ratio is at least 121-122,” said Dr. Hudson, who noted that the birth sex ratios for the rest of the world (excluding Oceania) range from 103.1 (Europe) to 99.5 (Africa).

Not only China, but India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Taiwan, and South Korea show a gender imbalance caused by a preference for males and “a devaluation of female life,” said Hudson.

“There are at least 90 million missing women in Asia, and over 10 percent of young adult men in these nations will be hard pressed to form traditional families of their own,“ Hudson said.

“For every daughter culled from the population, a son will become ‘surplus’—or in colloquial Chinese, a ‘bare branch’ on the family tree. Our estimates are that by the year 2020, young adult bare branches (ages 15-34) will number approximately 23 million–25 million in China alone, which constitutes 13 percent of this young adult male population.”

Unattached young adult males are much more likely to engage in anti-social behavior than married young adult males. As the population of unattached males increases, China will be confronted with increases in crime, violent crime, crimes against women, vice, substance abuse, and the formation of gangs, Hudson said.