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Associated Press/Photo by Eugene Hoshiko

One child rule

China | Recent investigation finds that UN funded coercion continues in China

After one birth and one abortion, a young Chinese woman gave birth to her second child. Knowing the fines for giving birth illegally would leave her family impoverished, she left the baby with her sister in another village and went to an abortion clinic, where she paid the clinic for the corpse of a baby girl. When the population control police came to her home to levy the fine, she carried the body to the door. They assumed her baby died and left her alone.

"That's a story that can only happen in China," said Steve Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute. While the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) claims that it operates in Chinese counties where there are no forced abortions or sterilizations, a PRI investigation has turned up evidence saying that forced abortions, heavy fines, and sterilization are still happening even in model UNFPA counties.

In its 2008 Annual Report, UNFPA says China has demonstrated "significant progress" in achieving UNFPA goals. The UN agency spent $6.8 million in China last year. A 2007 UNFPA video, "Family Planning in China: A New Approach," claims, "Women . . . now have more control over their reproductive decisions. They no longer need to wait for official authorization to have a baby as required in the old system." The mayor of one village declares, "They can have children any time. They can have one following after another."

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This is not what PRI found when it conducted its two-part investigation in March and May. After interviewing several hundred people in the investigation's final half, Mosher concluded, "We are funding a program of forced abortion and forced sterilization in China through the UNFPA."

The Chinese government's population policy requires delayed marriages and delayed births, meaning citizens have to wait for government permission to reproduce. It also advocates "fewer births"-one child in most cases, but two if the first is a girl. The final plank-"healthier" births-covers a policy that Mosher said leads to sterilization and killing visibly disabled babies at birth.

Fines for having a child illegally are draconian-three to five times the annual income of the family, Mosher said, and they sometimes may take 10-15 years to pay off.

Women flee to avoid having abortions and avoid being sterilized. Some villages turn in illegally pregnant women, but Mosher said Christians often hide the pregnant women and children from officials. He spoke to one Christian family who skirted the policies and managed to have five children, with plans for a sixth.

The government allowed one woman Mosher interviewed-whom he described as "bright and vivacious" but mute-to marry only after she was sterilized.

Mosher said he purposely investigated counties where minorities are supposed to have more freedom to reproduce, and counties where a UNFPA presence is supposed to preclude coercive practices. But he found that abuses continued in all three counties.

In urban areas the one-child policy may be less restrictive, Mosher said, but more abuses occur in the countryside, even though people there have more room for children, need children to help farm and are more traditional: "That's where the policy has always struck the hardest and that's where you continue to see sadness today in the faces of the people ... When you get them alone in their living rooms and it's just a husband and wife or just the wife, they start talking and tell you stories about the children that they've lost.


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