China One Child Propaganda
When God makes the lambs, He makes the hay… continued from part two: Malthusian Deceit
hat tip: pravoslavie.ru
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 Growth and Blueprint 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 reports’ method of using computerized “systems analysis” to predict and design the human future.
Fascinated by the possibilities, Song returned to China and republished the Club’s analysis under his own name (without attribution), establishing his reputation for brilliant and original thinking. Indeed, while Club of Rome computer projections of impending resource shortages, graphs showing the shortening of population-increase times, and discussions of “carrying capacities,” “natural limits,” mass extinctions, and the isolated “spaceship Earth” were all clichés in the West by 1978, in China they were fresh and striking ideas. In no time at all, 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 to 700 million people — which is to say some 280 to 330 million less than its actual 1978 population. 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 thirty years of disastrous misrule, but the very existence of the Chinese people. (To make the utter falsity of Song’s argument clear, it is sufficient to note that in 1980, neighboring South Korea, with four times China’s population density, had a per capita gross national product seven times greater.) Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping and his fellows in the Central Committee were also very impressed by the pseudo-scientific computer babble Song used to dress up his theory — which, unlike its Club of Rome source documents in the West, ran unopposed in the state-controlled Chinese technical and popular media.
Song proposed that China’s rulers set a limit of one child per family, effective immediately. Deng Xiaoping liked what Song had to say, so those who might have had the power to resist the one-child policy were quick to protect themselves by lining up in support. At the critical Chengdu population conference in December 1979, only one brave man, Liang Zhongtang, a teacher of Marxism at the Shaanxi Provincial Party School, called upon his party comrades to consider the brutality they were about to inflict: “We have made the peasants’ suffering bitter enough in the economic realm. We cannot make them suffer further.” Liang also tried to argue from a practical standpoint. If we implement this policy, he said, every working Chinese married couple will need to support four elderly grandparents, one child, and themselves — a clear impossibility. None of the children will have any brothers or sisters, or uncles or aunts. None of the parents will have any relatives of their own generation to help out in time of need. The social fabric of village life will break down completely. There will be no one to serve in the Army.
But such commonsense objections were of no avail. The word soon came down from the top: one child per family was now the policy of the infallible Party leadership, and no further disagreements would be tolerated.
Thus began the most forceful population control program since Nazi Germany. No more would the population controllers need to depend on tricks, bribes, denial of benefits, traveling ligation festivals, or slum demolition platoons to obtain their victims. They now had the organized and unrelenting power of a totalitarian state to enforce their will, holding sway over not only a massive bureaucracy, but gigantic police and military forces, secret police, vast prison facilities, total media control, and tens of millions of informers. In The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich had called for state control of human reproduction, with “compulsory birth regulation.” Now, just twelve years later, Ehrlich’s utopian dream had become a nightmare reality for one-fifth of the human race.
Qian Xinzhong, a Soviet-trained former major general in the People’s Liberation Army, was placed in charge of the campaign. He ordered that all women with one child were to have a stainless-steel IUD inserted, and to be inspected regularly to make sure that 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. “Under no circumstances is the birth of a third child allowed,” Qian said.
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.
The leaders of the UNFPA and the International Planned Parenthood Federation were delighted, and rushed to send money (provided to them primarily by the U.S. State Department) and personnel to help support the campaign. China was so openly brutal in its methods that IPPF’s own information officer, Penny Kane, expressed alarm — not at what was being done to millions of Chinese women, girls, and infants, but at the possible public-relations disaster that could mar the IPPF’s image if Americans found out what it was doing. “Very strong measures are being taken to reduce population,” Kane wrote from China, “I think that in the not-too-distant future this will blow up into a major press story as it contains all the ingredients for sensationalism — Communism, forced family planning, murder of viable fetuses, parallels with India, etc. When it does blow up, it is going to be very difficult to defend…. We might find it extremely difficult to handle the press and the public if there were a major fuss about the Chinese methods.”
Disregarding Kane’s concerns, the IPPF stepped up its support for the campaign. True to her worries, however, the story did begin to break in the West. On November 30, 1981, the Wall Street Journal ran an eyewitness story by Michele Vink reporting women being “handcuffed, tied with ropes, or placed in pig’s baskets” as they were being hauled off for forced abortions. According to Vink, vehicles transporting women to hospitals in Canton were “filled with wailing noises,” while unauthorized infants were being killed en masse. “Every day hundreds of fetuses arrive at the morgue,” one of Vink’s sources said.
On May 15, 1982, New York Times foreign correspondent Christopher Wren offered an even more devastating exposé. He reported on stories of thousands of Chinese women being “rounded up and forced to have abortions,” and tales of women “locked in detention cells or hauled before mass rallies and harangued into consenting to abortion,” as well as “vigilantes [who] abducted pregnant women on the streets and hauled them off, sometimes handcuffed or trussed, to abortion clinics.” He quoted one Chinese reporter who described “aborted babies which were actually crying when they were born.” The horror became so open that it could not be denied. By 1983, even Chinese newspapers themselves were running stories about the “butchering, drowning, and leaving to die of female infants and the maltreating of women who had given birth to girls.”
Unfazed by the press coverage, Qian redoubled the effort. 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. In 1983, 16 million women and 4 million men were sterilized, 18 million women had IUDs inserted, and over 14 million infants were aborted. Going forward, these figures were sustained, with combined total coerced abortions, IUD implantations, and sterilizations exceeding 30 million per year through 1985.
In celebration of Qian’s achievements, the UNFPA in 1983 gave him (together with Indira Gandhi) the first United Nations Population Award, complete with diploma, gold medal, and $25,000 cash. In a congratulatory speech at the award ceremony in New York, U.N. Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar said: “Considering the fact that China and India contain over 40 per cent of humanity, we must all record our deep appreciation of the way in which their governments have marshaled the resources necessary to implement population policies on a massive scale.” Qian stood up and promised to continue “controlling population quantity and raising population quality.” The U.N. was not alone in expressing its appreciation. The World Bank signaled its thanks in the sincerest way possible — that is to say, with cash, providing China with $22 billion in loans by 1996.
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. The resultant spike in female infanticide was perhaps not especially troubling to the authorities in itself, given their attitude toward related matters, but the total social breakdown it betokened was. Facing this reality, in 1988 the government in some provinces compromised just a little and agreed that couples who had a daughter as their first child would be allowed one more try to have a son — provided that there were no unauthorized births or other violations of the population policy by anyone in the couple’s village during that year. While giving a bit on the population front, this “reform” had the salutary effect — from the totalitarian point of view — of destroying peasant solidarity, which previously had acted to shield local women giving birth in hiding. Instead, hysterical group pressure was mobilized against such rebels, with everyone in the village transformed into government snoops to police their neighbors against possible infractions.
The killing of daughters, however, continued apace. 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.
The Terrible Toll
In 1991, UNFPA head Nafis Sadik went to China to congratulate the oligarchs of the People’s Republic for their excellent program, which by that time had already sterilized, implanted IUDs in, or performed abortions on some 300 million people. “China has every reason to feel proud of and pleased with its remarkable achievements made in its family planning policy and control of its population growth over the past ten years,” she said. “Now the country could offer its experiences and special experts to help other countries…. UNFPA is going to employ some of [China’s family planning experts] to work in other countries and popularize China’s experience in population growth control and family planning.”
Sadik made good on her promise. With the help of the UNFPA, the Chinese model of population control was implemented virtually in its entirety in Vietnam, and used to enhance the brutal effectiveness of the antihuman efforts in many other countries, from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to Mexico and Peru.
Meanwhile, many other countries have similarly grim stories. The Indonesian population control program was extensive and coercive; Betsy Hartmann has recounted a case in 1990 in which “family planning workers accompanied by the police and army went from house to house and took men and women to a site where IUDs were being inserted. Women who refused had IUDs inserted at gunpoint.” The Indonesian government’s longstanding commitment to population control meant that other areas of health care were not prioritized, which is why the country’s infant mortality rate is double that of neighboring Malaysia and Thailand.
The misallocation of scarce health resources is even more apparent in sub-Saharan Africa. Health care professionals and programs that should be dedicated to fighting malaria and other deadly diseases are instead dedicated to population control. As Dr. Stephen Karanja, former secretary of the Kenyan Medical Association, wrote in 1997:
Our health sector is collapsed. Thousands of the Kenyan people will die of malaria, the treatment of which costs a few cents, in health facilities whose shelves are stocked to the ceiling with millions of dollars’ worth of pills, IUDs, Norplant, Depo-Provera, and so on, most of which are supplied with American money…. Special operating theaters fully serviced and not lacking in instruments are opened in hospitals for the sterilization of women. While in the same hospitals, emergency surgery cannot be done for lack of basic operating instruments and supplies.
In a 2000 interview, Karanja continued, “You can’t perform operations because there is no equipment, no materials. The operation theater isn’t working. But if it is for a sterilization, the theater is equipped.” Worse still, as Steven Mosher has argued in his book Population Control, there is good reason to believe that the 100 million hypodermic needles that were shipped to Africa since the 1990s for injecting contraceptive drugs have been a major cause of the continent’s horrific AIDS epidemic — which has resulted in tens of millions of deaths, with nearly two million more deaths expected this year, and next, and for years more to come.
Around the world, the population control movement has resulted in billions of lost or ruined lives. We cannot stop at merely rebutting the pseudoscience and recounting the crimes of the population controllers. We must also expose and confront the underlying antihumanist ideology. If the idea is accepted that the world’s resources are fixed with only so much to go around, then each new life is unwelcome, each unregulated act or thought is a menace, every person is fundamentally the enemy of every other person, and each race or nation is the enemy of every other race or nation. The ultimate outcome of such a worldview can only be enforced stagnation, tyranny, war, and genocide. The horrific crimes advocated or perpetrated by antihumanism’s devotees over the past two centuries prove this conclusively. Only in a world of unlimited resources can all men be brothers.
That is why we must reject antihumanism and embrace instead an ethic based on faith in the human capacity for creativity and invention. For in doing so, we make a statement that we are living not at the end of history, but at the beginning of history; that we believe in freedom and not regimentation; in progress and not stasis; in love rather than hate; in life rather than death; in hope rather than despair.
Robert Zubrin is aNew Atlantis contributing editor. This essay is adapted from his new book — the latest volume in our New Atlantis Books series — Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism.