WASHINGTON – This year marks the 30th anniversary of China's one-child policy ‑ 30 years that witnesses at a congressional hearing say have been filled with forced abortions,sterilizations and infanticide.
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing was held Tuesday,just before President Barack Obama's trip to Asia.
Rep. Christopher Smith,R-N.J.,who heads the commission and was the only member of Congress present at the hearing,said the remarks would serve as a plea for Obama to confront China on its alleged human rights violations.
“This is the worst women's rights violation in the history of the world,” Smith said.
The panel included human and women's rights crusaders a demographer and a woman who had undergone a forced abortion in China. She testified anonymously and through an interpreter.
The policy,which has been relaxed recently to allow couples who are each only children to produce two offspring,began 30 years ago to control a rapidly growing population. China's population is 1.3 billion,the world's largest.
Graphic stories of forced abortions told of women taken from their homes,their families and neighbors beaten and their belongings taken if they didn't have the proper permit to have a baby or were pregnant with their second child.
Reggie Littlejohn,president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers,which campaigns against China's one-child policy,said the suicide rate for women in China is more than 500 a day – five times more than the global average and three times more than the suicide rate of men in China. China is the only country where more women commit suicide than men. Littlejohn said forced abortions are a cause to the suicide figures.
“To say this is unrelated to the female suicide rate makes no sense,” she said.
Other data also show a cause for concern.
Nicholas Eberstadt,a demographer with the conservative American Enterprise Institute,said the one-child policy is the “mother of all social experiments.”
He said there will be unintended consequences from the policy that “might not have been imagined in the worst nightmares.”
Male children are heavily favored over females,and as such outnumber female babies six to five. India has about the same ratio,but in most other countries only slightly more male babies are born. In India,the world's second-most populous country,cultural tradition often favors boys,but there is no national law.
This will and has created a “marriage squeeze,” which has also contributed to increased amounts of sex trafficking in and around China.
China's aging population also will also feel a squeeze,considering fewer children are available to care for their parents and grandparents. China has no form of social security,and the brunt of caring for the elderly falls on the shoulders of the smaller number of healthy adults.
David Finkelstein,a director of China Studies at the Center for Naval Analyses,which specializes in military research,said the Chinese military also has concerns about the one-child policy.
Soldiers who are only children have trouble socializing in a group. He said conscription time for soldiers has been reduced because farming families can't afford to have an only child gone for too long.
However,Finkelstein said chances of Obama bringing up the one-child policy is like “pie in the sky.”
The hearing was the 27th Smith has held on forced abortions in China in his 30-year career as a member of Congress.