By FR. JOHN FLYNN, LC
(Editor’s Note: Fr. John Flynn, LC, wrote this commentary for ZENIT News Agency; all rights reserved.)
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Amid conflicting news reports over changes to the one-child family planning policy in China, disturbing reports continue to arrive about serious abuses of human rights.
On December 31, the BBC reported that a Chinese obstetrician is on trial, accused of stealing newborn babies and selling them to child traffickers.
Zhang Shuxia was accused of selling seven babies, according to the BBC. Apparently she told the parents their infants were sick, and persuaded them to give the children to her.
Just the day before, Radio Free Asia reported that four Uyghur women in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang have been forced by authorities to undergo abortions — one of them nine months into her pregnancy.
According to the report, these latest cases were among six forced abortions that had been planned in recent days in the Hotan prefecture in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, home to some 10 million mostly Muslim Uyghurs.
The father of one of the children aborted, Memettursun Kawul, said he was willing to pay the fine of 50,000 to 100,000 Yuan (U.S. $8,250 to U.S. $16,500), “but they refused,” he said.
Family planning rules are also being exploited by local officials for their own profit. A national audit found that $260 million had been levied illegally, noted an article published September 19 by Reuters.
The family planning restrictions have also led to kidnappings of young children, mainly boys, who are sought after by families who want a male heir. On December 2 the BBC published a moving account about a young man who at the age of 28 was reunited with his family, after having been kidnapped when he was five years old.
In 1990 Luo Gang, from Yaojia village, Sichuan Province, was abducted and sold to a family in Sanming, 1,500 km (900 miles) away.
Trafficking In Children
The report affirmed that China’s one-child policy and lax adoption laws have encouraged an underground market for trafficked children. “Earlier this year a police chief in Fujian claimed over 10,000 children had been trafficked in 2012 in his province alone,” the BBC said.
The article followed up earlier reports by the BBC on the exploitation of children. On August 5, the BBC had reported that police had rescued a baby boy allegedly sold by a maternity doctor to another family.
Then, on July 6, the BBC revealed that Chinese officials broke up two child-trafficking gangs, arresting 802 people, and freeing 181 children.
“A traditional preference for male heirs in China has created a thriving market for baby boys,” the article commented.
The family-planning restrictions have also led to a veritable massacre of innocent lives. Last year, on March 15, the Financial Times reported that Chinese doctors have performed more than 330 million abortions since the restrictions on children were put in place more than 40 years ago.
Since 1971, doctors have performed 336 million abortions and 196 million sterilizations. As well, they have also inserted 403 million intrauterine devices, often without the consent of the women involved, the Financial Times said.
In terms of future policy, late last year it was announced that families would be allowed to have two children, Reuters reported on November 19.
Perhaps the key element to focus on, as the article said, is that the current family planning policy “is increasingly seen as harmful to the economy.”
Supposedly, if one of the spouses of a couple is an only child, then they will be allowed to have two children.
Nevertheless, many details are lacking and a number of commentators have expressed doubts about whether there has been a substantial change in government policy.
“Companies manufacturing or operating in China have already seen their profits diminish as the supply of labor — seen as China’s most competitive advantage in attracting foreign companies to its turf — tightens, pushing up wages,” The Wall Street Journal reported November 15.
It seems then that there is a conflict between nationalistic interests, ideology, and economic considerations.
China’s working-age population — those aged 15 to 64 — will shrink drastically, the Wall Street Journal commented. From 2010 to 2030, China’s labor force is expected to lose 67 million workers.
In an October 23 article The Wall Street Journal had already reported that according to two Citigroup economists, Nathan Sheets and Robert A. Sockin, China’s “deteriorating demographics” are likely to trim 3.25 percentage points off China’s annual growth rate between 2012 and 2030,
The question remains, then, whether there will be any major change in China’s family planning policies. On December 29 the British newspaper the Independent published an article in which it quoted a statement by Chi Wanchun, a standing committee member of the National People’s Congress.
“Easing the one-child policy does not mean an end to family planning,” he said.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world will wonder how many hundreds of millions of innocent lives will be sacrificed on the altars of mistaken ideals.
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(© 2014 Innovative Media Inc.)