China Dupes: Excusing the One-Child Policy

Vice President Joe Biden made the news again this week. Three weeks ago, Biden was in the news because of reports he had denounced Tea Party members as “terrorists,” a claim his spokespeople have attempted to deny. This week, Biden was in the news because he did not denounce the communist Chinese for their vicious one-child policy, a claim his spokespeople have attempted to deny.

Joe Biden has performed an interesting inversion of reality: Tea Party members haven’t killed anyone; China’s one-child policy has generated the deaths of countless millions. Beyond those direct deaths, China grapples with the demographic-cultural nightmare of some 43-million “missing women,” as Chinese families opt to abort baby girls in preference of baby boys.

 And sadly, Joe Biden is not the only American source excusing China’s one-child policy. But before considering that other source, consider first what Biden said:

On August 21, Vice President Biden spoke at Sichuan University in Chengdu. He began with his usual smile, cheerfully thanking his “gracious” hosts. He noted that he brought along his daughter-in-law and granddaughter—two women who, if Chinese, would not be permitted to birth more than one child without severe fines or even forced sterilization. But Biden wasn’t going there.

No, the vice president had come to celebrate China; its “proud history,” its “high-tech future,” its “land of abundance,” its “hospitality.” He was flatly “amazed” by China. Reading from prepared remarks, Biden raved about China’s economic growth. Then he turned to questions from the student audience.

The first questioner wanted to know about the U.S. economy — especially our colossal deficit/debt –and there, in that context, Biden managed a remark about China’s one-child policy: 

“I was talking to some of your leaders. You share a similar concern here in China. You have no safety net. Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family. The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable. So hopefully we can act in a way on a problem that’s much less severe than yours.” 

Biden’s remark was not exactly a condemnation of China’s one-child policy. Worse, it seemed an endorsement. He said the policy is one “I fully understand,” and which “I’m not second-guessing.” Biden then appeared to say that the policy is not financially/economically sustainable because too few young people will exist to pay the social services of elderly people. If that’s a criticism, it’s based strictly in financial/economic terms, not moral terms.

Biden’s assessment was not exactly a profile in courage. Previous statesmen went to China and spoke boldly against its infamous human-rights abuses. President Reagan spoke at Fudan University in April 1984, where he quoted the inalienable rights of the Declaration of Independence, among much more. President George W. Bush spoke at Tsinghua University in February 2002, where he eloquently defended religious freedom. And Hillary Clinton, a liberal like Joe Biden, denounced China’s one-child policy at a U.N. conference in Beijing in September 1995.

Unfortunately, as I said at the start of this article, Biden’s remark was not the only recent whitewash of China’s one-child policy by an American source. Much less noticed was an Associated Press article titled, “One-child policy a surprising boon for China girls.”

The story credits the perverse policy for supposedly helping Chinese women. The smaller pool of women, the article (amazingly) argues, has opened opportunities for women—that is, for women not aborted. It’s as if the communists created another novel way to eliminate competition.

The article glows: “Such gifted young women are increasingly common in China’s cities and make up the most educated generation of women in Chinese history. Never have so many been in college or graduate school, and never has their ratio to male students been more balanced.” 

This “ratio,” the AP celebrates, redounds to all sorts of entertainment and leisure perks for China’s (living) gals. Citing a young woman named “Wang,” the article marvels: “Wang and many of her female classmates grew up with tutors and allowances, after-school classes and laptop computers. Though she is just one generation off the farm, she carries an iPad and a debit card, and shops for the latest fashions online.”

I wish I could say I’m surprised by the AP piece, but I’m not.

I’m also not surprised by Joe Biden’s comments. He has been terrible on what his Church calls “the sanctity and dignity of unborn human life.” (Click here to read my “Joe Biden’s Church Troubles.”)

In both cases, we have two prominent, influential sources serving as unwitting dupes for China’s repressive communist government. The world needs to know that China’s one-child policy is not a “boon,” not something to “fully understand,” but an abomination, especially for women.

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. He is also co-author (with Patricia Clark Doerner) of The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).