Vice President Joe Biden is well-known for his off-the-cuff remarks and outright gaffes, so many assumed it was more of the same when he made a recent comment about not “second-guessing” China’s one-child policy. A little research however reveals that Biden was not speaking out of school about this subject.
Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute (PRI), had numerous discussions with then-Senator Biden on the topic of population control when they were working to establish Free Radio Asia in the early 1990s.
The discussions between Mosher and Biden occurred when Mosher was serving on a congressional commission to study the proposal of Radio Free Asia, partly in response to the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Biden was then a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that heard testimony from the commission following the report it released on the proposed radio project. And Biden introduced legislation in 1992 to create Radio Free Asia, which was authorized by Congress and established in 1996.
“When Biden says he totally understands the one-child policy, I take him at his word,” said Mosher to CNSNews.com. Mosher added that Biden understands the gravity of China’s policy because he warned him of it.
Biden made the “second-guessing” remark during his recent trip to China in an address at Sichuan University. “Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family,” Biden said, adding that asking only one-wage earner to maintain an entire family was “not sustainable.”
Mosher worries the vice president’s remarks will send the wrong message to China. “When he says he’s not going to second-guess it, that’s bizarre because it has been a consistent policy of the United States since the Reagan administration to deplore and condemn the violations of human rights of the one-child policy.”
“I think that’s a terrible position for the United States to be in – in terms of abandoning our principles,” Mosher said. “How can we speak to the brutalities committed by dictators elsewhere if we don’t speak openly of what I consider to be the major ongoing human rights violation in the world today?”
Mosher has first-hand knowledge of China’s one-child policy, instituted in 1978. He was the first social scientist from the West allowed to take part in an exchange program in China where he conducted field studies. During his time in China, Mosher reported how a neighbor was arrested for being pregnant. He accompanied her and her husband to the police station and witnessed the interrogation, after which the couple was arrested and incarcerated.
Mosher believes Biden should have confronted Chinese leaders about their human rights record by pointing out the state has no right to interfere with a couple’s decision on how many children they will have. “When the state does that it leads to terrible human rights violations, including forced abortion, forced sterilization,” Mosher said. “I don’t think you jump blindly over the moral question – the human rights question – and go right to the economic question,” Mosher said. “I think the moral questions are paramount here.”
The U.S. State Department’s 2010 human rights report on China revealed:
National law prohibits the use of physical coercion to compel persons to submit to abortion or sterilization. However, intense pressure to meet birth limitation targets set by government regulations resulted in instances of local family-planning officials using physical coercion to meet government goals. Such practices included the mandatory use of birth control and the abortion of unauthorized pregnancies. In the case of families that already had two children, one parent was often pressured to undergo sterilization.
A U.S.-based human rights organization reported that in August, the one-month-old daughter of a mother in Changfeng County, Anhui Province, was detained by local family-planning officials until the woman signed a document consenting to a sterilization procedure.
In April as reported by a regional investigative newspaper affiliated with the newspaper Southern Daily and later in the international press, local family-planning officials in Puning, Guangdong Province, initiated an “education campaign” to encourage nearly 9,559 “most serious violators of family-planning policies” to undergo sterilization procedures. Reportedly, 1,300 persons were detained during this process, including family members of couples who had unauthorized births, until at least one member of the couple in violation submitted to a sterilization procedure.
In late-April officials in Pingxiang, Jiangxi Province, levied a RMB 2,000 ($300) fine and threatened to demolish the home of the parents of a migrant worker who failed to submit his family-planning paperwork.
Laws and regulations forbid the termination of pregnancies based on the sex of the fetus, but because of the intersection of birth limitations and a traditional preference for male children, particularly in rural areas, many families used ultrasound technology to identify female fetuses and terminate these pregnancies.
©2011 Off the Grid News