by David Alton
Universe Column for November 20th 2005
The latest documented cases detailing the abuse of China’s one child policy make for harrowing reading. That we in Britain continue to aid and abet this policy must rank as one of our greatest errors.
British taxpayer’s money percolates its way through international agencies (who categorically say that they do not support coercive policies) into the hands of the Chinese Population Association. Turning a blind eye to what they then do or simply tut-tut ting from time to time does not diminish our complicity.
That we do not deliver our money directly to the local population commissar in Shandong Province – home to 23-year-old Li Juan.
Her story is truly shocking.
Close to time, she was carrying a nine-month old unborn child. Two men arrived at home just two days before she was due to give birth. The baby would be a little girl, who was to have been named Shuang – which means Bright.
Li Juan says that the men took her away to a clinic, pinned her down to a bed, drove a syringe into her abdomen, penetrated the foetus, and left her for 10 hours to give birth to a dead baby.
The officials then left nothing to chance and submerged the baby’s body in a pail of water.
Where a woman is able to evade the ministrations of the State officials and give birth to a baby beyond the permitted one child limit she will then be subjected to punitive fines. The fine for the first additional child is $365 – which is about four times the annual income of a peasant living in a province like Shandong.
In order to assuage international criticism – primarily from the United States – the central Communist government in China have been making much of the loop-hole in the law which says a family can “choose” to pay the fines. But as Li Juan’s case illustrates, the sheer impossibility of finding such exorbitant sums of money illustrates what a sham this is.
The central authorities have also designated a couple of dozens counties which do not forcibly impose the one-child policy. When foreign visitors enquire about the population policy they are usually taken to those show-case counties and this invariably soothes their consciences.
What happens in reality is again illustrated by Li Juan’s case.
She lives in the Linyi region of Shandong. Just over a year ago the region had the highest number of births above the permitted quotas in the whole of Shandong. This led during the next twelve months to one of the most brutal mass sterilization and abortion campaigns seen to date.
Teng Biao, an academic at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, visited Linyi and he has bravely provided evidence of what happened there. In a short 4 month period, at least 7,000 women in Linyi County were sterilized. Women who refused to comply were sent to re-education centres. Some villagers were allegedly beaten to death for harbouring women hiding from the sterilization and abortion squads.
And, more bravely still, a blind man, Chen Guang-cheng, challenged the officials and the law through protests and a court action. He was put under house-arrest and underwent terrible interrogation. What his fate will be for daring to speak out remains unclear. His last recorded public statement was “I’m at risk, but I cannot give up because people are depending on me.”
Meanwhile, rather than raising our voices with Chen Guang-Cheng and standing alongside women like Li Juan, we provide the oxygen line of funds to the agencies that fund the Chinese Population Association. Surely we should redirect these funds away from China into life saving projects which combat poverty and disease.