“This isn’t a partisan thing, nor should it be,” the pro-life lawmaker told a press conference on Capitol Hill, launching a campaign to end “gendercide.”
Since China introduced its “one-child” policy 32 years ago, the communist government claims it has “prevented” 400 million births.
Smith said when President Obama hosted President Hu Jintao on a state visit last June, he failed to address China’s dismal human rights record, including forced abortion or sterilization associated with the one-child policy.
The president missed a “golden opportunity” during the press conference the two leaders held at the White House, he added.
“Hu Jintao and President Obama stood side by side and there wasn’t a single word from our president about human rights,” Smith said.
According to the State Department’s 2010 report on global human rights, ongoing violations in China included “a coercive birth limitation policy, which in some cases resulted in forced abortion or forced sterilization.”
“Female infanticide, sex-selective abortions, and the abandonment and neglect of baby girls remained problems due to the traditional preference for sons and the coercive birth limitation policy,” it said.
Smith made his remarks at a press conference to launch an anti-gendercide campaign, spearheaded by All Girls Allowed, a Christian organization lead by social activist and Tiananmen Square survivor Chai Ling, and endorsed by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.
CNSNews.com asked Smith what Congress and the Obama administration should do to stop gendercide. He noted that Congress passed legislation in 1985 denying federal funding to organizations or programs which the president determines support or participate in coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.
“I say with incredible regret and sadness that under the Clinton administration and now under the Obama administration, even though Kemp-Kasten [amendment] remains the law of the land, they have done a very poor job in applying the law,” Smith said.
He said the Obama administration was also funding the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), “which has provided all the cover that Beijing needs to continue its death machine, directed at young women who are pregnant and especially the girl child in-utero.”
“The U.N. Population Fund stands accused by not only this member, but many members in Congress and people concerned about human rights, in providing huge support, material support and cheerleading, if you will, for the forced abortion policy in China.”
The UNFPA’s role in China’s population limitation policies has long been controversial. It denies that its work in China supports coercive measures but, citing evidence to the contrary, the Bush administration from 2002 withheld federal funding for the U.N. body in line with the Kemp-Kasten amendment. Obama reversed the policy on taking office.
Smith, co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs’ subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, said he intends to hold at least one hearing focusing on gendercide.
Nicholas Eberstadt, political economist and demographer with the American Enterprise Institute, told the press conference that because of the availability of inexpensive technology, sex-selective abortions are spreading around the world, including in India, where there is a cultural preference for male offspring.
But the practice is not limited to distant places, Eberstadt said. “It’s already happening in the U.S.”
The practice has “come to America and we have to decide what to do about it,” he added.
Another participant said the often cited figure of 100 million girls who have “disappeared” because of gendercide may be too small, given the gender imbalances in some populations, including in China.
“My feeling is the number is probably a little on the short side,” Dudley Poston, sociology professor at Texas A&M University, told CNSNews.com. The actual figure is probably closer to 120 million, he said.
Early last year the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said that within 10 years, one in five men would not be able to find a bride because of the reduction of females, according to a March 4, 2010 article in The Economist.
Speaking at a church in Falls Church, Va., last August Chai, reflected on her survival of the deadly 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and her commitment to seeing an end to China’s one-child policy.
“The Tiananmen Massacre is still happening every day,” said Ling, who escaped to the U.S. via Hong Kong, is married to an American and has three daughters.
Reps. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) also spoke at the event. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) was also scheduled to speak but did not. She and the other House members signed a symbolic declaration to end gendercide.
China’s population limitation policy generally restricts couples to having one child, with exceptions introduced in certain cases, including one that allows ethnic minorities or rural couples to have a second child if their firstborn is a girl.