On May 7, South Korean customs authorities announced they had discovered 17,500 capsules made from the incinerated remains of human fetuses and infants being smuggled into the country from China for sale. Coming in the wake of the high-profile drama concerning the effort of the Chinese government to suppress the voice of the brave, blind anti-population-control activist Chen Guangcheng, this news has placed the issue of the regime’s brutal one-child law forcefully before the conscience of the world. Therefore, a look at the origin and history of this atrocity is in order.
In June 1978, Song Jian, a top-level manager in charge of developing control systems for the Chinese guided-missile program, traveled to Helsinki for an international conference on control-system theory and design. While in Finland, he picked up copies of “The Limits to GrowthandBlueprint for Survival”- publications of the Club of Rome, a major source of Malthusian propaganda – and made the acquaintance of several Europeans who were promoting the report’s method of using computerized “systems analysis” to predict and design the human future.
Fascinated by the possibilities, Mr. Song returned to China and republished the Club’s analysis under his own name (without attribution), establishing his reputation for brilliant and original thinking. In no time at all, Mr. Song became a scientific superstar. Seizing the moment to grasp for greater power and importance, he pulled together an elite group of mathematicians from within his department and, with the help of a powerful computer to provide the necessary special effects, issued the profoundly calculated judgment that China’s “correct” population size was 650 million to 700 million people – which is to say, some 280 million to 330 million less than its actual 1978 population.
Mr. Song’s analysis quickly found favor at top levels of the Chinese Communist Party because it purported to prove that the reason for China’s continued poverty was not 30 years of disastrous misrule, but the very existence of the Chinese people. Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and his fellows in the Central Committee were very impressed by the pseudo-scientific computer babble Mr. Song used to dress up his theory and even more impressed by the possibilities that arrogating the power to permit or deny children would provide to the state.
Thus began the most forceful population-control program since Nazi Germany. Qian Xinzhong, a Soviet-trained former major general in the People’s Liberation Army, was placed in charge of the campaign. He ordered all women with one child to have a stainless steel IUD inserted and to be inspected regularly to make sure they had not tampered with it. To remove the device was deemed a criminal act. All parents with two or more children were to be sterilized. No pregnancies were legal for anyone under 23, whether married or not, and all unauthorized pregnancies were to be aborted.
Women who defied these injunctions were taken and sterilized by force. Babies would be aborted right through the ninth month of pregnancy, with many crying as they were being stabbed to death at the moment of birth. Those women who fled to try to save their children were hunted, and if they could not be caught, their houses were torn down, and their parents thrown in prison, there to linger until a ransom of 20,000 yuan – about three years’ income for a peasant – was paid for their release.
Babies born to such fugitives were declared to be “black children,” illegal non-persons in the eyes of the state, without any right to employment, public schooling, health care or reproduction. Millions have been confiscated from their mothers and placed in “orphanages” where, if not adopted in short order, they are left to expire without food in “dying rooms.”
Local Communist Party officials were given quotas for sterilizations, abortions and IUD insertions. If they exceeded them, they could be promoted. If they failed to meet them, they would be expelled from the party in disgrace. These measures guaranteed results. Since 1983, the combined total coerced abortions, IUD implantations and sterilizations have exceeded 30 million per year, or nearly one billion in all.
Given the supreme importance to rural Chinese families of having a son, both to take care of aging parents and to continue the line and honor family ancestors, many peasants simply could not accept a daughter as their only child. As a result, female infanticide has become rampant. During the period from 2000 to 2004, almost 1.25 boys were born for every girl born – indicating that one-fifth of all baby girls in China were either being aborted or murdered. In some provinces, the fraction eliminated was as high as one-half. According to Chai Ling, the former Tiananmen Square rebel leader who now heads a dissenting organization “All Girls Allowed,” the death toll now exceeds more than 100 million girls.
Such is the horror of China’s population-control policy. America needs to take a strong stand against it and aid in every way those brave men and women who would bring it to an end.
Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Astronautics, a senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy, and the author of Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism.