Xi Jinping’s ‘Commitment’ to Women’s Rights Rings Hollow, Activists Say

By Leo Timm
Leo Timm
Leo Timm
Leo Timm is a freelance contributor to The Epoch Times. He covers Chinese politics, culture, and current affairs.
September 28, 2015 Updated: September 28, 2015

As Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke at a United Nations women’s rights conference in New York on Sept. 27, activists can’t help but notice China’s own violations in the area that Xi pledged an initial $10 million to.

“We should foster a global environment favorable for women’s development,” Xi said at the start of the meeting. In the next five years, China is also to set up 100 health-oriented projects and host 30,000 women from developing countries in Chinese training programs.

Xi’s statements come two days after the 35th anniversary of the draconian one-child policy that Chinese authorities say has prevented 400 million births. And fresh in memory is this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8, when Chinese police arrested five women for campaigning against sexual harassment.

Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, wrote in an open letter to Xi Jinping that the one-child policy “is China’s war on women,” a policy that “causes more violence against women and girls” than any other in the world.

Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, which focuses on the forced abortion or infanticide of baby girls in China, documents the brutality of the measures taken by Chinese authorities to enforce the Communist Party-dictated population controls.

“Any discussion of women’s rights, or human rights,” Littlejohn wrote, “would be a charade if forced abortion in China is not front and center.”

While the one-child policy, which along with a cultural preference for sons is a significant factor behind China’s increasing gender imbalance (there are currently an estimated 40 million “excess” men in China), it was the March arrests of the five activists that focused the attention of women’s rights activists on Beijing.

Rosa Lizarde, global director of the Feminist Task Force, told Epoch Times that her organization has been involved with the five Chinese activists ever since their imprisonment, which lasted about a month.

Lizarde said that the Task Force sees a “contradiction” in Xi’s stated support for “the U.N. human rights declaration via the women’s rights conference.”

Twenty years ago, China hosted the 1995 U.N. conference on women’s rights in Beijing, an anniversary that Xi Jinping seems eager to capitalize on.

Yet, as Lizarde said, “twenty years later we see the rights of women and their right to freedom of demonstration jeopardized.”

U.S. President Barack Obama did not attend the U.N. conference.

Wang Yu, the Chinese rights lawyer representing the five feminist activists in court, was later violently detained by authorities.

Despite the Chinese Communist Party’s nominally egalitarian ideology, Chai Ling, head of All Girls Allowed, a movement to abolish the one-child policy, told Epoch Times in a telephone interview that instead of bringing equal opportunity, the Chinese regime under Chairman Mao tried to turn women into men as part of his totalitarian vision.

Totalitarianism continues with the one-child policy, Reggie Littlejohn said. Even though the policy is responsible for an impending demographic decline as China’s population ages due to its artificially low fertility rate—just 1.5 children per woman—it serves as an expedient instrument of control over hundreds of millions of Chinese, men and women alike.

The one-child policy employs over a million people in various surveillance details to ferret out women who have become pregnant without state approval and send them to hospitals to undergo forced abortions. Aside from keeping the population low, it also maintains an atmosphere of fear, Littlejohn says.

Another motivating factor is corruption. By exacting fines from those found to have given birth in violation of the policy, Party authorities rake in vast sums.

“Women around the world are not free, because one fifth of the world’s women are in China,” Littlejohn said. “Xi Jinping can say anything but as long as forced abortions continue, nobody should take his words seriously.” 

Leo Timm
Leo Timm
Leo Timm is a freelance contributor to The Epoch Times. He covers Chinese politics, culture, and current affairs.