China recently announced that it was intensifying its |one-child policy| designed to keep its population down. An editorial in The People’s Daily, the Communist Party newspaper, announced “We cannot just be content with the current success, we must make population control a permanent policy.”
China claims that the one-child policy prevented the births of 250 million babies, but this is unlikely given the fact that, as the BBC notes, people in the countryside largely ignore the one-child policy and in urban areas rising income and educational levels would have likely led to a reduction in family size anyway. Besides almost all of the decline in China’s population growth rate occurred prior to the creation of the one-child policy.
The one very noticeable demographic effect of the policy has been the vast skewing of the sex ratio, with far more boys being born than girls — according to the BBC there are now 60 million more men than women in China and that number is going to continue to grow as children born in 1980s and 1990s, where the sex ratio skewed the most, reach adulthood.
Meanwhile, China arrested officials in central China who murdered a baby that was born to a mother who had already exceeded the official state quota. Most of the allegations of human rights abuses caused by the one-child policy involve such state officials who are given quotas for live births for their area but often very little guidance on how exactly they are to stop women from getting pregnant. Under pressure to meet the quotas some officials, such as the three recently arrested, are willing to commit atrocities.
On the other hand the veracity of many horror stories was challenged recently by the indictment of a prominent New York attorney who specialized in Chinese immigrant cases. Robert Porges, 61, was indicted for helping international smugglers evade immigration authorities and bring up to 7,000 illegal immigrants from China to the United States.
Among the things Porges stands accused of is falsifying horror stories of persecution under the one-chlid policy in order to gain his clients political asylum in the United States. According to the Washington Post,
To secure [INS] releases, Porges and his paralegals concocted thousands of fake political asylum stories, claiming, for example, that a Chinese woman had undergone a forced abortion because of China’s one-child policy.
<porges and his firm filed fake documents from the so-called relatives, usually the smugglers themselves, or forged signatures of people with no relation to the aliens.
While there are certainly human rights abuses associated with the one-child policy, such concoctions and inventions may have helped exaggerate the extent of such abuses.
China steps up ‘one child’ policy. The BBC, September 25, 2000.
N.Y. lawyer charged in immigrant smuggling. Hanna Rosin and Christine Haughney, Washington Post, September 21, 2000.