By Benjamin Mann
A leading human rights advocate in the U.S. House of Representatives says Vice President Joe Biden betrayed Chinese women and children by saying he “fully understood” the country’s one-child policy and was not “second guessing” it.
“The one child per couple policy is cruel, inhumane and the most egregious systematic attack on women ever,” said Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said on August 23. “For the Vice President to publicly state that he fully understands the one child policy is unconscionable.”
“He and all of us should be defending the women of China from this state-sponsored cruelty of forced abortion and forced sterilization, not supporting and enabling it.”
Vice President Biden made the remarks during his state visit to China, at an August 21 appearance at Chengdu’s Sichuan University. He was discussing the United States’ dilemma of paying for entitlement programs when the number of retirees exceeds the number of workers, a problem he said China shared.
“But as I was talking to some of your leaders, you share a similar concern here in China,” Biden said.
“Your policy has been one which I fully understand – I’m not second-guessing – of one child per family. The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable.”
The Vice President’s remarks in Chengdu drew widespread criticism, particularly from pro-life activists and his political opponents.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on August 22 that he was “deeply troubled by the comments … regarding China’s reprehensible one-child policy, which has resulted in forced sterilizations and coerced abortions and should not be condoned by any American official.”
On August 23, the Daily Caller website reported that it received an e-mail from Biden’s spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff, stating that “the Obama Administration strongly opposes all aspects of China’s coercive birth limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization.”
Barkoff said Biden himself “believes such practices are repugnant.” She said his remarks were a way of “arguing against the One Child Policy to a Chinese audience.”
In his response, Rep. Smith pointed out that the Obama administration’s record on China and population issues did not support Barkoff’s claim of “strong opposition.”
“This Administration has long enabled this cruel policy by its silence and financial support for organizations like UNFPA (the United Nations Population Fund) that support the Chinese government’s brutal program,” Smith argued.
He also stressed the horror that the widespread population control policy has caused.
“If a woman is caught pregnant without explicit government authorization to give birth, she is forced to abort,” Smith said. “Unwed mothers are all compelled to abort. Handicapped unborn children, if discovered, are killed by the state.”
“Ruinous fines … jail, torture, property confiscation, loss of employment, education opportunities, housing and health care are all weapons aggressively used by the family planning cadres to ensure compliance. No wonder over 500 Chinese women commit suicide each day in China.”
Rep. Smith said President Obama himself had “sold out” Chinese women and children in prior meetings with China’s president.
President Obama, he asserted, “didn’t say a word about any of the human rights crimes of Chinese President Hu Jintao when he visited Washington earlier this year; instead he hosted a state dinner for him.”
“Chinese women,” Smith said, “need advocates, not enablers.”