Female infanticide and sex-selection abortion are rampant. Roughly one in six girls conceived in China is killed before or after birth by parents anxious to have a son. The one-child policy leaves couples with only one, or at most two, chances to have a son. It has resulted in the deaths of some 37 million girls. This shortage of women explains why China is responsible for about 60% of the world’s sex trafficking.
Abortion in China has cost the lives of perhaps 400 million children since the beginning of the one-child policy, a number greater than the population of the United States. Although the Chinese Party-State is proud of its “success,” the country will pay a heavy price in the future for eliminating half of the next generation.
Despite these abuses, China’s one-child policy has its foreign defenders. These usually claim that the country’s birth control regimen is not really a “one-child policy” because some Chinese couples are allowed to have a second child. But so what? The Chinese government has always made exceptions to the one-child rule for some couples.
The Chinese Party-State, you see, understands — as some foreign population control enthusiasts apparently don’t — that it really doesn’t matter whether it allows couples to have one child or two children. What is important is the principle — first laid down by Chairman Mao Zedong way back in the Fifties — of Party control over reproduction.
The Chinese Party-State rejects out of hand the internationally recognized right of parents to freely determine the number and the spacing of their children.
Instead, to put it bluntly, it believes that it “owns” the reproductive systems of the Chinese people.
The birth control regulations published by the Chinese Party-State are not mere suggestions to the Chinese people about the size of their families. They are hard and fast rules about when and under what circumstances they are permitted to use their reproductive systems to conceive and bear children. This is why it makes more sense to continue to call China’s population control program a “one-child policy” rather something softer-sounding like a “family planning policy.” And this is why the horrific violations of human rights detailed above continue to occur day in and day out in China.
It wouldn’t matter if the Chinese Party-State tomorrow declared a “two-child policy” across the board. This would not change the fact that the Chinese government was still asserting total control over procreation and, in pursuit of such control, continuing to systematically violate the human rights of the Chinese people.
Until China stops trying to follow Vice Premier Chen Muhua’s dictat to “regulate the reproduction of human beings,” the rights of Chinese parents will continue to be violated. And the tragedy of China’s one-child policy will continue.
Steven W. Mosheris the President of the Population Research Institute, an organization dedicated to ending abusive population control programs in China and around the world.