Chinese court agreed to here forced abortion case. This is illegal (although not unheard of) in China and I’m glad the courts are hearing the case. The problem is local officials, especially in rural areas run the their areas like fiefdoms. As the old Chinese saying goes: “Heaven is high and the emperor far away (Tian gao, huang di yuan).” Maybe this will change.

I personally find forced abortions to be disgusting, but I understand why China has the one-child policy. Sometimes there are no good options. China is about as big as the continental United States with much less arable land with a population that is 4.5X larger. Despite China’s economic rise in the last 20 years, China is not a rich nation on a per capita level and to generate enough resources and jobs for the people they already have is a strain, let alone if they had 1.5-2 billion people. We are talking about 1/6 of the world population. To their credit, minority groups in China can have as many children as they want and people born under the one-child policy can have two children. It is quite easy for loud mouths panders, like Hillary Clinton, to say Chinese women should be able to have as many children as possible, and go back to the U.S. and live at a standard less than 1% of the people in the world enjoy. It is quite another thing to make hard decisions on the ground in China.

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Grieving couple challenges China’s one-child policy in court

12/06/2007

BY KOICHI FURUYA, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN QINHUANGDAO, China–It was right after supper on Sept. 7, 2000, when the men came pounding on her door.

Nine months pregnant, Jin Yani could do little to fight off the men who had driven up in two black cars and forced their way into her home.

“Come with us. No one will let you have your baby,” one of them told the woman who is now 27 years old.

They grabbed her by the arms and bundled her into one of the cars.

The men took Jin to a building operated by the local government’s department in charge of enforcing China’s one-child policy. There, a doctor injected her swollen abdomen. The baby was aborted.

Critics say this kind of thing has been happening in China since the crowded country started its one-child policy in 1979.

Aimed at curbing its population increase, authorities carried out compulsory abortions on women who became pregnant with their second or subsequent children.

But even more astounding today is that courts agreed to hear a lawsuit filed by Jin and her husband, Yang Zhongchen, 39. The couple sought compensation for the loss of their baby daughter.

And in another first, China’s media have been reporting on their case.

Sitting in her temporary apartment in a suburb of Qinhuangdao in Hebei province recently, Jin recalled that horrible day.

“I was confused. I could not believe that something like this was actually happening to me,” Jin said. Her eyes were red from weeping, and her hands trembled.

The one-child law also applies to unmarried women who became pregnant.

Jin was not married when her baby was aborted in 2000. But she and the baby’s father, Yang, had been making preparations for their marriage. Their procedures had been delayed, however.

The local authorities then decided her pregnancy was “unplanned” and proceeded to abort the fetus–even though it was late in her pregnancy.

Under the one-child policy, if a couple pays a fine, they are allowed to have the baby. Yang was trying to gather the money when the abortion took place.

The day after the abortion, Yang, working about 600 kilometers away in Tianjin, received a call from a relative and rushed home.

When he got to the place where the abortion had been performed, he saw the body of his daughter, still covered in blood.

“We had already decided to name her Yang Ying,” he said sadly.

Since the abortion, Jin’s physical condition has deteriorated. She has been unable to become pregnant again, Yang said.

Jin and Yang repeatedly filed complaints with the local government about the abortion. They have received no official explanation or apology from the officials of the government.

Finally, in January the couple filed a lawsuit at the Changling County People’s Court against the local government, seeking compensation. Fearing official reprisals, they moved to a town about 100 km away.

The couple was actually surprised when the court accepted their suit.

According to Caijing magazine, this case is the first challenging the one-child policy that has ever gone through. In another first, the Chinese media have openly reported on the suit.

“Such reports are unheard-of in the Chinese media,” a member of the judiciary said.

This could indicate China’s awareness of human rights is growing along with its rapid economic growth.

On Internet bulletin boards, thousands of comments criticizing the local government for Jin’s forced abortion have been posted. Many comments agreed, though, that it is still necessary to curb the rise in China’s population, which stood at 1.31 billion in 2006.

“This is murder,” one post said. Another message asked, “Does the doctor who did this abortion have a heart?”

Many people believe the tide has turned when it comes to human rights issues in China. Courts there can no longer ignore blatant transgressions.

Still, the fight is uphill. In May, the court rejected the couple’s lawsuit.

According to the ruling, a Hebei province ordinance stipulates local authorities must end pregnancies that violate the one-child policy. Jin’s pregnancy was illegal and, therefore, what the government did wasn’t illegal.

In June, the couple appealed to the Qinhuangdao Intermediate People’s Court. On Oct. 16, their appeal’s first public hearing was held.

“Today in China, it may still be difficult to win a lawsuit against the authorities. But, through this trial, we hope to foster wider public awareness of the problem,” Sun Maohang, one of the couple’s lawyers, said.

The one-child policy faces several hurdles.

One widely acknowledged problem is the growing gap between the number of men and women. In 2005, 118 boys were born for every 100 girls in China. The ratio of 103-107 boys for every 100 girls is considered standard.

The gap has grown because many women aborted female fetuses in the rush to have male babies after the one-child policy was introduced.

Today, among 20- to 45-year-olds, when most people usually wed, there are 18 million more men than there are women in China.

“The gap between the number of males born and females born is the largest in the world. It will have an (adverse) effect on social stability in the future,” Zhang Weiqing, minister in charge of the State Population and Family Planning Commission, said in a meeting in Shenyang.

Another problem is the rapid aging of the Chinese population. About 140 million people are now 60 or older, which accounts for 11 percent of the total population. By 2020, there will be 230 million in that age group, roughly 16 percent of the total population.

What’s known as the “one-child policy” generation will reach their 60s in the late 2030s and thereafter. Meanwhile, the working population will stop increasing in about 2015.

That means the ratio of elderly to working people will continue to increase for nearly two decades after China’s working population stops growing.

The situation is more dire than in developed countries, because China’s overall society is not yet affluent.

An expert who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “China will face unprecedentedly heavy pressure from social security costs. Simply limiting population growth is no longer the answer to everything. The problem is more complex.”

In January, Beijing announced new decisions about planned births.

The government said it is still firmly committed to curbing population increases. However, it will consider ways to fine-tune its policies.

Among new policies, the city government of Guangdong in southern China decided in July to “encourage” couples to have a second child in cases where both parents are the only children in their own families.

The decision is aimed at easing the decline in birthrate for urban areas, where the aging problem is far more serious than in rural farming areas, where families that have two children are more common.

Also in July, the central government announced a similar policy for all provinces, autonomous regions and major municipalities–except for Henan province, which has a population of more than 90 million.

But the government also said it will stick to its strict policies when it comes to people from the provinces who migrate to work in more populated urban areas.(IHT/Asahi: December 6,2007)

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