China's 'one-child' population woes being felt around region (The Washington Times)


April 30, 2015



By Cheryl Wetzstein  

Massive gender imbalances – which in China have resulted in some 37 million “missing girls” in the wake of the country’s longtime “one child” policy – is spreading to other countries in the region, analysts told a Capitol Hill hearing Thursday.

The afternoon event, convened by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), focused on human rights abuses committed in China, which has had a one-child-birth-per-couple policy for 35 years. But it looked at wider social and demographic upheavals that stem from Beijing’s radical population-control policies.

China’s unprecedented gender imbalance comes from the “terrible collision” of a “ruthless son preference,” the one-child policy, plus advanced gender-detecting technologies like ultrasounds with unrestricted abortion, American Enterprise Institute scholar Nicholas Eberstadt told lawmakers.

The result is the “creation of an army of unmarriable men” and heavy pressure on women to bear sons, he said, and population pressures that are distorting societies beyond China’s borders.

In Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, and even in Beijing, elite, educated women are fleeing marriage in such unequal cultures, Mr. Eberstadt said. “This will intensify the marriage squeeze” and further upset China’s demographic and childbearing woes, he said.

One puzzling case is Vietnam, said Valerie M. Hudson, a professor of government and public service at Texas A&M University who has written on the unequal male-female ratios now being seen in the region.

Vietnam’s sex-ratio at birth was once normal, but it has now become “abnormal” in the decade since the communist government imposed a two-child-per-couple policy, said Ms. Hudson.

This gender-imbalance phenomenon is “not decreasing,” she added, with alarming excesses of male-to-female births appearing in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Albania.

Reggie Littlejohn, founder and president or Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, and Chinese legal advocate Chen Guangcheng, a distinguished visiting fellow at Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, detailed for the committee atrocities they say have been committed under China’s one-child policy.

Villagers in China are told that if one person breaks the birth control policy, all the villagers can be sterilized, said Mr. Guangcheng, author of “The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man’s Fight for Justice and Freedom in China.”

The government exhorts Chinese citizens that it’s better to have “10 more tombs” than a extra baby born alive, and “a broken home” is better than a “collapsed country,” he said through a translator. As a result, the family planning officials can act like “bandits,” threatening people, seizing property, beating people – while police only swoop in if a victim retaliates in violence, he said.

The January 2014 modification of the one-child policy – couples are now allowed a second child if either parent was an only child, and rural couples can have a second if their first child is a girl – has not “erased, relaxed or abandoned” the policy, said Ms. Littlejohn. The new rule only affects a small portion of the population and hasn’t been implemented everywhere, they said.

It also doesn’t bypass the “dreaded” birth-interval rule, in which the government dictates when a couple can have a second child. A baby conceived without a birth permit is viewed as illegal, and women are usually forced to abort, she said.

Moreover, the punitive fines placed on couples who break the rules has brought as much as $314 billion into Chinese government coffers since 1980. This makes the one-child policy a “lucrative profit center” for the government, said Ms. Littlejohn.

The analysts said the U.S. should spotlight these “catastrophic problems” internationally, as well as, in the United States. In addition, Congress should enact bills to outlaw abortions of 20-week-old “pain-capable” fetuses and abortions solely on the sex of the unborn child, said Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican and chairman of the CECC, and Rep. Trent Franks, Arizona Republican.