Chen Guangcheng’s Story: A Reminder of China’s One-Child Policy
For the past few weeks, U.S. foreign news media has closely monitored the plight of Chen Guancheng, a Chinese human rights activist who is famous internationally for opposing forced abortions in China. Chen escaped house arrest in late April and made his way to the U.S. embassy in Beijing, where he was able to make a deal with the Chinese government to leave the embassy to receive medical treatment. Meanwhile, it appears that his relatives and supporters have faced harassment from Chinese officials. While it is unclear whether Chen opposes abortion in general, his struggle against forced abortions in China should serve as a reminder of the brutality of China’s one-child policy.
China has enforced the one-child policy since 1979 as a response to the government’s inability to address the needs of its massive population. Since many citizens do not comply, forced abortion and sterilization are common, even though those measures are technically illegal. The policy has also created other dilemmas, such as discrimination against female children that has resulted in a gender imbalance and has led to problems such as bride trafficking. Meanwhile, in a recent interview, C-FAM’s Senior Vice President for Research, Dr. Susan Yoshihara, explained the impact of the demographic change the policy is projected to have on China’s growth and strength. She argues that demographic decline in both Asian and Western European nations will cost them economic and political clout in the coming decades. Dr. Yoshihara’s discussion underscores the idea that the need for a culture of life is not for the sake of intangible religious and philosophical principles; on the contrary, society’s moral decisions have practical implications on economic and social well being.
Ideally, Chen’s situation will result in a broader discussion about the one-child policy and the issue of population decline in the developed world.