The Family Values of Communist China | Charen
The Chinese Communist government will allow three children per family. How nice.
Here’s how the New York Times put it: “The ruling Communist Party’s announcement represents recognition that its reproductive limits, the world’s most severe, have put the country’s future in jeopardy.
Describing China’s “one-child policy” as “limits on reproduction” is like calling the Jim Crow laws “limits on political participation.” The Times account, which at least used the word “brutal” after the jump, also presented a sideways timeline of China’s population policies that was even more innocuous. In 1978, readers informs, the central government “approved a proposal in which family planning offices encouraged couples to have one child, or at most two.”
“Encouragement”? Not enough. The one-child policy deserves to be recounted among the violent human rights abuses of our time. Millions of women have been tied to hospital stretchers and their unborn children have been torn from their wombs against their will. Millions more have been forcibly sterilized. were they encouraged? Sure. People had stars on little plaques showing how well they had followed family planning policies. They also lost their jobs, were denied education, and their homes were demolished and their property confiscated if they gave birth to an unauthorized baby.
Forced abortion of eight- and nine-month-old fetuses was common, as was infanticide. In her unruffled documentary “One Child Nation,” Chinese-American filmmaker Nanfu Wang interviewed party officials, relatives and midwives who testified about their own actions. A midwife, now 85, said she exclusively helped infertile couples “atone” for all the babies she killed during her career. “The policy was of the state,” she said. “But I was the executioner. My hands were shaking as I did this.
Another family planning official who has also been involved in countless forced sterilizations, abortions and infanticide recalled that when their babies were taken from them, women “screamed, cried, went crazy. Sometimes they would run away and we had to chase them away.
The discarded female newborns were left in the markets – “their bodies covered in maggots” – on the hills and in garbage piles under bridges. Delivery men, bus drivers and others on the move regularly found babies in bags by the side of the road. Due to the Chinese preference for male offspring (when women marry they are considered family members of their husbands), millions upon millions of couples have killed their female babies in hopes of trying. again to have a son. Even Nanfu’s mother Wang tells her that when she gave birth with Nanfu’s younger brother, they had a basket waiting if it turned out to be another girl.
The abundance of abandoned infants gave rise to a massive human trafficking operation, in which the babies were passed to brokers who sold them to orphanages for international adoption. Eighty percent were women.
Family planning authorities have used Cuban-style neighborhood watch committees to spy on couples suspected of hiding pregnancies. Workplaces required women to record their menstrual cycles. If couples flouted the laws and raised their children unauthorized, they were forced to keep the existence of these children a secret. Children born outside the quotas have no legal status, no identity papers, no access to schools or clinics.
The poor suffered the most from the one-child policy because the rich could afford to pay fines for unauthorized babies or bribe local authorities to look the other way. Bribes have become so lucrative for family planning bureaucrats that they fiercely resisted the central committee’s policy change in 2016 to allow two children.
The Communist Party, which sees the Chinese as pieces to be moved on a chessboard, and not as individuals with rights, is concerned about the future workforce and the aging of the population, and has therefore increased the quota of ‘children of three. Each of those millions of unique children has to take care of two parents and four grandparents – they call it the 4-2-1 problem – and while official propaganda promised that the state would take care of the people elderly, pensions are insufficient.
The social engineering of the Communist Party has created a society poor in siblings, cousins or aunts and uncles. The imbalance between men and women condemns millions of men to permanent celibacy. Human Rights Watch documented Myanmar’s “bride theft” to China.
Many on the American left initially applauded China’s one-child policy. In 2008, Thomas Friedman said the policy “probably saved China from demographic calamity.” Others acknowledged that China has gone too far, but saw population control as fundamentally beneficial development. It was a big mistake.
While the right was once the province of Chinese skepticism, it has recently taken a turn towards stupidity and xenophobia. Republicans brag about being hawkish towards China, which consists of third-year taunts like the “Chinese virus” and “Kung flu,” as well as tariffs paid by Americans. But the Trump years hardly featured a whisper about China’s blatant violations of human decency, and in fact Donald Trump praised the Uyghur concentration camps.
This week’s family policy announcement reminds us that China’s worst crimes have always been committed against its own people.
Mona Charen is Policy Editor at The Bulwark and host of the “Beg to Differ” podcast.
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