Monday, August 30, 2004

China Realizes Infanticide Isn't Such a Good Idea

To Have Girls Is Glorious
China realizes infanticide isn't such a good idea.
Sunday, August 22, 2004 12:01 a.m.

China's one-child policy has many odious dimensions, but the most gruesome aspect of this type of "family planning" is the murder of millions of infant girls.

As a result, the ratio of males to females in China is unnaturally high, hovering between 117 to 119 boys for every 100 girls in 2000, according to China Daily and People's Daily. There are one-fifth more boys than girls because girls are so often aborted or killed after delivery.

Chinese officials have in the past boasted about preventing 300 million births since the one-child policy was implemented in the late 1970s, and for this they have often received the accolades of Western "family planning" supporters--including, sadly, feminists--who see "overpopulation" as a threat right up there with global warming. The Bush Administration has been the target of bien-pensants from Brussels to Hollywood for withholding support from the United Nations Population Fund, an agency that operates in China despite the coercive nature of the one-child policy.

But now even Chinese officials are starting to admit that the vast majority of these 300 million were girls. So bad have things become that the government has finally started to worry, and earlier this month announced a raft of new programs to reverse the trend. The National Population and Family Planning Commission launched a pilot project called "Care for Girls," which will experiment with incentives in some parts of the country.

These will include cash payments for couples who have a daughter and let her live, as well as privileges in housing, employment and job training. The payments will be doled out to families at different stages of the girl's life, apparently in an effort to prevent families from gaming the system. Some families with girls will also be exempted from paying school fees. People's Daily said another experiment will involve enhancing the political status of the girl and her family.

According to some reports, the government will also start cracking down on hospitals and doctors who perform ultrasounds and other tests that allow couples to know the gender of the child in the womb. It will also get serious about stopping the drowning of infant girls and the practice of abandoning them in the wild. Finally, China plans a re-education campaign--slogans and all--to teach its citizens to treat girls well.
The officials who announced this pilot program put much emphasis on China's, and Asia's, predilection for boys as the reason why China has such a lop-sided gender ratio. Zhang Weiqing, minister of the state family planning commission, said the one-child policy had nothing to do with the imbalance. This beggars belief, and perhaps Mr. Zhang could explain why one of the approaches being experimented with is allowing couples whose first-born is a girl to have a second child.

China seems to have learned the hard way what the one-child program can produce. Because it was first imposed in the late 1970s, men in their 20s are having to deal with the harsh reality of six bachelors for every five potential brides. There are numerous reports of kidnappings of women across the country as frustrated men try any means to procure wives. As a new generation of (mostly male) Chinese move into positions of authority, they have an incentive to correct the gender imbalance.