This fine analysis was posted by my colleagues at the China Aid Association today. Here’s the link to the original post.
Beware of Naive Rumors: “The Chinese government has begun to ban forced abortions and forced sterilizations”
CHINA AID ASSOCIATION 9/26/12
On September 12 and 13, 2012, All Girls Allowed, a US-based group that opposes China’s forced family planning policy and seeks to end it, sent out an English-language news release and a prayer letter saying that the Chinese government had begun to ban forced abortions and forced sterilizations. The response from many quarters after this news was released and picked up by media outlets was mostly expressions of doubt. Some organizations and experts have already made targeted rebuttals, and ChinaAid has also engaged in-depth discussions with All Girls Allowed (AGA), making it clear that it held a different view. In response, AGA’s founder and president Ms. Chai Ling made her case for insisting on the authenticity and accuracy of the news and the group’s investigations (see the links provided below to the news reports on this subject.)
ChinaAid believes that, although we look forward to the early end of the evil policy of forced family planning in China and although we respect and applaud Ms. Chai Ling’s important work and contributions in this endeavor, the tone of the AGA news release and the conclusion it draws lack the necessary and sufficient evidence; they are too naïve and jump to conclusions, and constitute an erroneous report that has seriously misguided and confused international opinion. At the same time, AGA has unintentionally acted in concert with the Chinese government’s propaganda efforts, beautifying the image of the family planning commissions and their officials, which will hurt innumerable victims of the forced family planning policy and weaken their courage to pursue justice and protect the dignity of human life.
The evidence cited by AGA are mainly the following:
1. On July 12 of this year, China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission held its semi-annual work conference on national population and family planning work, and director Ms. Wang Xia delivered a report in which she called [on family planning workers] “to guide the masses to practice family planning on their own initiative, [and] resolutely put an end to late-term induced labor [i.e. abortion]”
(See ChinaAid’s translation of excerpts of Ms. Wang Xia’s speech below. The Chinese version is available at http://www.chinapop.gov.cn/xwzx/zwyw/2012/201207/t20120719_391788.html ).
2. AGA telephoned a family planning official in the Chinese city of Chongqing to confirm this. She (or he) responded affirmatively, saying: the Chinese government has already issued a document to all family planning commissions banning forced abortions and forced sterilizations, which must be voluntarily decided upon by the parents themselves.
Hence, AGA’s analysis was, It’s clear that the July speech by Wang Xia, the head of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, was not just empty talk. A Chongqing official has said: “No more forced abortions.”
ChinaAid believes that the evidence cited by AGA are merely oral statements that have been put down on paper (the document has not even been sighted yet; it’s just hearsay), and there is no evidence yet of it being put into practice or of action having been taken. In other words, this is still nothing more than the propaganda of the Chinese government. Therefore, it should not be the basis upon which the conclusion is drawn that the Chinese government has already begun to ban forced abortions and forced sterilizations. These are our reasons:
1. Do not readily fall for the propaganda of the Chinese government. From 1944 to the present, the propaganda of China’s Communist Party-ruled government has been based on lies, mostly through deception, misleading, coercion and inducements, and brainwashing. According to a June 13, 1944 report in Liberation Daily, Mao Zedong said in response to questions from a group of foreign reporters: “Strong politics can only be built on freedom of speech, publication, assembly and association and on a democratically elected government.” Such moving words! As a leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student movement, Ms. Chai Ling experienced the massacre [that ended the movement] and therefore should understand this better than most people and have a more unforgettable memory of it. At the time, didn’t the central government promise that “the government will not settle the score after the fact” and “students who took part in the June 4 movement will not be politically persecuted by the government,” etc., etc.? But what really happened? Furthermore, at least this much is clear: because of the political news with Chinese characteristics that exploded in Chongqing this year does anyone still believe the words of officials in Chongqing? And also, Chinese government propaganda for years has said that Chinese citizens fully enjoy human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religion, etc. But don’t the large body of facts and data reported by ChinaAid in its annual reports on persecution of Christian churches unmask those lies for the whole world to see?
2. In her speech, National Population and Family Planning Commission director Wang Xia stressed that the national policy of family planning would be continued. The core message and central theme of Wang Xia’s speech is that the forced family planning [measures] of the past 30-plus years were correct. Hence, [she referred to] “the need to conscientiously sum up the achievements in population and family planning work and to be even more confident and resolute.” Moreover, [she said,] this is the political road that the Communist Party and the government has all along held to, saying “the Communist Party Central Committee and the State Council have always remained committed to strategically and comprehensively grasping and achieving a high level of understanding of population issues. Especially since reform and opening-up, they have always persisted in the comprehensive policy strategy of population and development in unwaveringly carrying out the basic national policy of family planning” so that “we have made great achievements in population control and family planning that have attracted world attention. Nationwide, births were reduced by more than 400 million babies (person)…” Please note here, this 400 million is truly a bloody figure.
3. Facts speak louder than words: According to news from mainland China in recent days, family planning measures are still being forcibly carried out and forced abortions are still being performed. Since forced family planning started in 1979, countless unborn babies have already been forcibly aborted and countless women have been forcibly sterilized and countless families have lost livestock and their homes due to heavy fines or because their houses have been demolished. Countless cadres have been removed or demoted because unapproved births have occurred in their jurisdictions. There also have been countless cadres who have been promoted because they brutally and bloodily implemented the family planning policy (for instance, Li Qun the former Party secretary of Linyi City who was widely regarded as the No. 1 blackhand in persecuting [blind human rights activist] Chen Guangcheng, is now the Party secretary of the city of Qingdao). But nowhere in China’s family planning law and local family planning regulations does it approve of [using] the measures of forced abortions or sterilizations. Yet, in reality, the government has always acted unhesitatingly in carrying out forced abortions and sterilizations. When Hu Jintao visited the United States in January 2011, Ms. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Congresswoman from Florida and chairman of House Committee on Foreign Affairs, referred to China’s forced family planning practices with a concern. President Hu Jintao immediately responded with a lie, “There are no forced abortions in China!”
4. As was true of the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square student movement, so it also is with the “national family planning policy”: it is an important and politically correct aim of the Chinese Communist Party in the Deng Xiaoping era. Therefore, to overturn the decision on the June 4th crackdown or to reverse the forced family planning policy is tantamount to admitting that the Chinese Communist Party has made serious mistakes since 1979 and it would also be tantamount to negating Deng Xiaoping. If the Chinese government were to ban forced abortions and forced sterilizations and require that the parents themselves choose, then the family planning policy would immediately fall apart. When that day comes, a major political transformation will have certainly emerged in China and Deng Xiaoping’s political era will be negated, just as the Communist government in the Deng Xiaoping era negated the Cultural Revolution of the Mao Zedong era. At any rate, in advance of this year’s 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, the opening date of which has not even been set yet, there is no reason yet to be so optimistic.
To sum up the four points above, it is our view that AGA has no conclusive evidence to believe that Wang Xia will put into practice that single sentence in her long-winded speech, even less is there any basis to believe that the words of that Chongqing official is proof that the Chinese government plans to ban forced abortions and sterilizations, even though we have reason to believe that there has been this kind of propagandizing and that such words were spoken—the objective was to deal with the international outcry and the international pressure [over China’s forced abortions]. Certainly, these changes in wording demand our close attention and should be encouraged because they demonstrate that international pressure and the rights defense movement in China on the family planning issue have already achieved results.
As is well-known to all, these serious repercussions and denunciations both internationally and domestically were triggered by the explosive news of several forced family planning scandals, including escape to the United States of Mr. Chen Guangcheng, the blind human rights lawyer from Linyi, Shandong province, the government’s forced abortion of the seven-month unborn baby of Feng Jianmei in Ankang, Shaanxi province, the government’s forced abortion of an eight-month unborn baby in Xianyou county, Fujian province, the government’s forced abortion of Hu Xia’s nearly eight-month unborn baby in Jianli county, Hubei province, etc. There was also Ms. Cao Ruyi from Changsha, Hunan province, who was five months pregnant when she was kidnapped by government cadres and taken to a hospital where they intended to force her to undergo an abortion. Fortunately, due to the efforts of ChinaAid, Chinese house churches and the international community, particularly the efforts of New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith, who protested in a letter to the Changsha government, she was spared.
Therefore, just because there has been some change in the propaganda of the Chinese government does not mean there will be actual changes in practice. People need to see actual actions and changes in the actual policy. Looking at Wang Xia’s speech, however, no movement of any kind is evident toward a ban on forced abortions and sterilizations, since she said: “[Of] first [importance] is to hold unwaveringly to family planning as an unchanging fundamental national policy and grasp firmly the paramount task of maintaining a stable low birth rate. Maintaining a stable low birth rate is the most important task in upholding and implementing the fundamental national policy of family planning, …” Here she emphasizes that maintaining a stable birth rate is the paramount task, that is, the paramount task of this “unchanging” fundamental national policy. But how is one to “hold unwaveringly to” and accomplish this paramount task? Are they relying on Chinese parents to voluntarily give up having a second child? No one would believe this, not even Wang Xia.
Below, we quote from the Xinhua News Agency, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, in a 1946 attack on the Kuomintang (the Nationalist Party governing China then):
“In the past 20 years, especially in recent years, we see every day that ‘only the magistrates can set fires while the commoners are not allowed to light their lamps.’ Setting aside for the moment the question of whether the government’s edicts are in the interest of the people, what really makes people angry is that the government doesn’t even abide by these kinds of edicts. Every day, the government wants the people to abide by the law and yet the government itself violates the law every day. Such behavior is miles removed from the concept of ‘democracy.’ Whether the democracy advocates are genuine or fakes, we are too humble to comment. Let us first see what percentage of the government’s empty promises of democracy has it actually honored. If they do not honor the words written in blank ink on white paper, what more is there to say? Therefore, before holding the political consultative conference, we would first like to ask them to keep their promise. We hope that by doing this small thing that it ought to do, the government can show the people that it is trustworthy.”—Xinhua Daily. February 1, 1946.
We can’t help but ask, next month it will be 63 years since the Communist Party founded the People’s Republic of China, but has it kept its promises? It’s already been more than 20 years since the Kuomintang government in Taiwan honored its promise.
Likewise, director Wang Xia of the National Population and Family Planning Commission of P. R. China in her July speech called for “resolutely put[ing] an end to late-term induced labor [abortions].” So let’s just wait and see, see when they will bring this to pass.
Lies themselves are nothing to be afraid of, but believing in lies and naïvely spreading them is definitely cause for concern.
In view of this, ChinaAid expresses its deep regret and unease, and strongly urges AGA to release a corrected statement so as to redeem itself for having publicly misled people.
Let’s be united in continuing to expose the brutality of the forced family planning policy, to bring comfort to and to support the victims who are bravely using the law to protect that most basic of human rights, the right to reproduce. At the same time, let’s look to the Lord Jesus Christ for grace and help to bring to an early end this end this ignorant and evil national policy that is disastrous for both the country and the people.
Links to English-language news reports:
The Chinese version of the ChinaAid Editorial is here: http://www.chinaaid.net/2012/09/blog-post_7110.html
The 2012 National Semi-Annual Work Conference on Population and Family Planning Opens
July 19, 2012 Source: China Population News Translated by China Aid Association
Liberate the mind, deepen reform, boost confidence
Promote the sustainable and healthy development of the cause of population and family planning
Speech by Wang Xia. Gou Qingming, Wang Peian, Cui Li, Chen Li, Yang Yuxue and Jiang Fan in attendance
The 2012 National Semi-Annual Work Conference on Population and Family Planning opened on July 19 in Beijing. The conference’s main tasks were: to carry out and implement a series of Party Central Committee arrangements regarding effective nationwide population and family planning in the new era, which center on the comprehensive implementation of the program in the 12th Five-Year Plan for population growth and for population and family planning work, to sum up work achievements, to analyze the current situation, deepen the development of ideas, nail down the key tasks, to further liberate the mind, to deepen reform, to strengthen our confidence and to promote the sustainable and healthy development of the work of population and family planning. Wang Xia, minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, delivered a semi-annual work report. Attending the conference were: Gou Qingming, head of the disciplinary inspection group of the Communist Party Central Committee’s Disciplinary Inspection Commission assigned to the National Population and Family Planning Commission; National Population and Family Planning Commission vice ministers Wang Peian, Cui Li and Chen Li; Yang Yuxue, vice president of the standing committee of the Chinese Family Planning Association; and Jiang Fan, president of the Research Institute of Family Planning and Reproductive Health.
Since the beginning of this year, solid progress has been made in the various priority tasks of the population and family planning system and phased results have been achieved. Leadership efforts have been enhanced and smooth progress has been made on major projects; some new breakthroughs have been achieved on some difficult problems, basic work at the grass-roots level has been consolidated, and building up work style has been further strengthened; thus laying a solid foundation for realizing the annual work goals and promoting the implementation of the 12th Five-Year Plan.
Wang Xia pointed out in her speech the need to conscientiously sum up the achievements in population and family planning work and to be even more confident and resolute. The Communist Party Central Committee and the State Council have always remained committed to strategically and comprehensively grasping and achieving a high level of understanding of population issues. Especially since reform and opening-up, they have always persisted in the comprehensive policy strategy of population and development in unwaveringly carrying out the basic national policy of family planning. We have made great achievements in population control and family planning that have attracted world attention. Nationwide, births were reduced by more than 400 million babies, creating a relatively long period of a population “dividend” when total expenditure on child raising is comparatively low and savings rates are relatively high. This is effective in relieving the pressure the population growth exerts on natural resources and the environment, greatly. It has greatly improved the conditions for existence and development of all the people in this country, and is an important contribution to reform and opening-up and rapid economic and social growth that is indelible. It has also laid a solid foundation for good overall success in population and family planning work in the new era.
Wang Xia emphasized the need to clearly see the new situation we face and further strengthen our sense of responsibility and sense of calling. First, is the need for a profound understanding of the basis of the impact that population changes in the new era are having on the transformation of social and economic development. The overall transformation of China’s population growth is concomitant with the transformation of China’s economic and social development; hence, demographic issues must be addressed within the larger context of the overall economic and social development, and there must be a profound understanding of the important role of population growth on economic and social development. Not only does resolving practical problems need to be emphasized, but strategic research must also be strengthened, by using new ways of thinking to crack various problems and by striving to enhance the ability to explore and use regular patterns and science in policy decisions. Second is to have a profound understanding of the objective requirements that strengthening of and innovations in social management will have on the management of population services as a whole. Population growth must become the foundation of the various resources for integrating the national economy, gradually perfecting the “people-oriented” policy for management of population services and establishing a management system for population services that is compatible with social patterns. Strengthening of and innovations in social management must occur unceasingly at the source, attaching importance to the effect that population-based management has on its supporting role in formulating the policies for perfecting people’s livelihoods, establishing a comprehensive population service mechanism guided by demographics-based information, paying close attention to the link between interactive sharing of demographic information and basic public services in urban and rural areas, and strengthening the monitoring and early-warning forecasting of population growth. Third is to have a profound understanding of the inherent demands that establishing a service-oriented government will have on accelerating the transformation of the function of population service management. We should stick to the principle of “people first,” making equal access to basic public services the goal and guided by the public’s needs and the needs of economic and social development, to create a new structure of social pluralism in collaborative governance by strengthening pro-active service and overall coordination. At the same time, the idea of investing in people first should be adopted, establishing a system of sound population growth policy and allocating more public resources to areas that are directly related to comprehensive human development and the improvement of people’s livelihood. A sense of purpose and service awareness must be firmly established, areas of service must be constantly expanded, management must brought into the providing of services, and our ability to make service policy decisions, to serve the grassroots and to serve the masses must be strengthened. Fourth, we should have a profound understanding of the problems and shortcomings in our current population and family planning work. We must be vigilant in peacetime, boost our confidence and push ourselves so as to effectively improve our overall quality and our work performance.
Wang Xia called for thinking and understanding to be unified and further clarification of the important work to be firmly grasped. The first is to hold unwaveringly to family planning as an unchanging fundamental national policy and to grasp firmly the paramount task of maintaining a stable low birth rate. Maintaining a stable low birth rate is the most important task in upholding and implementing the fundamental national policy of family planning, as well as the basis and premise for achieving good overall results in population work and a comprehensive resolution to the population problem. Work at the grassroots level in both urban and rural areas must be comprehensively strengthened by identifying and rectifying the shortcomings, establishing sound work systems in urban and rural areas, perfecting long-term work mechanisms and accelerating the achievement of full coverage of excellent family planning services. Organizational leadership should be further strengthened and duties should be fulfilled; earnestly do a good job in key locales and among key people-groups to promote transformation of the work in backward areas. Hold fast to using propaganda as a guiding force and the combining of law-abiding administration with [the lure of] benefits to guide the masses to practice family planning on their own initiative, resolutely put an end to late-term induced labor [i.e. abortion] and resolutely avoid triggering malevolent cases through illegal administrative actions. Sternly investigate by following regulations and adhering to discipline the problem of unapproved births among Party members and cadres and the rich and famous, so as to create a social atmosphere that is conducive to population and family planning work.
(ChinaAid: The Translation is on going and a complete version will be updated soon)