China is a serial abuser of human rights, but governments and corporations have often looked the other way out of fear that the authoritarian central government will cut off access to the country’s 1.4 billion potential customers.
In one particular area of human rights abuses, though, China has gotten extraordinarily gentle treatment: reproduction.
Forced abortion, forced sterilization, forced birth control, and limits on family size have long been part of Chinese regime’s inhumane effort to control the Chinese people. Beijing’s campaign against the liberty of its Uighur Muslims has meant a huge increase in such assaults on freedom and family formation.
“The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks,” the Associated Press reports in a gruesome new investigation, “and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands….”
And of course, China enforces these policies with force and the threat of force. “Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps,” the AP reports, “with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines. Police raid homes, terrifying parents as they search for hidden children.”
On the individual level, it’s heartbreaking to imagine the government stripping a woman of her fertility. “We lost a part of our body,” one Uighur woman said. “We lost our identity as women.”
On the societal level, the efficiency of this program is horrifying. Birth-rates in the Uighur parts of the country have dropped by 24% in just a year.
It’s hard to imagine a violation more foul than reaching into a woman to murder her child. Forced sterilization is nearly as bad. And the one-child and two-child policies of China intrude into the most intimate aspects of people’s lives, literally restricting love.
Nevertheless, governments here and abroad, along with the media and corporations have a long record of accepting China’s war on women who are pregnant or would like to be.
Take the Obama administration. Joe Biden, while representing the U.S. as vice president, said he had no objection to the one-child policy: “Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family.”
Biden’s office quickly tried to reverse that statement, but the damage occurred.
Then there is the American media’s willful blindness to this problem. The AP has consistently been good on this, but other outlets — most notably the Washington Post — seem to have decided that it’s not safe to report on forced abortion, sterilization, or contraception.
Back in 2012, the Post ran a 1,300-word news story on dissident Chen Guangchen that somehow totally omitted the Chinese policies he was dissenting against. The piece didn’t include the words “sterilization,” “abortion,” one-child policy,” “family planning,” “contraception,” or “birth control.” This was typical of the Post’s coverage at the time—most of their stories on Chen omitted forced abortion. CBS and Reuters avoided it too.
Let’s not turn a blind eye to China’s inhumane behavior this time.