Biden on defensive over China policies

2011-08-24 11:00

Washington - Under fire from angry Republicans, US Vice-President Joe Biden's office said on Tuesday that he firmly opposes "repugnant" Chinese population control practices like "forced abortion and sterilisation".

"The Obama administration strongly opposes all aspects of China's coercive birth limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilisation," Biden spokesperson Kendra Barkoff told AFP by e-mail.

"The vice-president believes such practices are repugnant," she said after Republican White House candidates blasted Biden for recent comments he made about Beijing's "one-child" population control policy during a visit to China.

Biden told an audience at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, Sunday that "your policy has been one which I fully understand - I'm not second-guessing - of one child per family".

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, a leading candidate for the Republican nod to take on President Barack Obama in November 2012 elections, on Tuesday accused Biden of "condoning" a "gruesome and barbaric" policy.

"There can be no defence of a government that engages in compulsory sterilisation and forced abortions in the name of population control," he said, charging that Biden's comments "should shock the conscience of every American".

Moral indifference

Barkoff pointed out that Biden, who was discussing the ratio of active workers to retirees, had also called the policy "unsustainable" and said "he was arguing against the One Child Policy to a Chinese audience".

But Texas governor and Romney rival Rick Perry charged that Biden's "refusal to 'second-guess' this horrendous policy demonstrates great moral indifference on the part of the Obama administration".

"Americans value life, and we deserve leaders who will stand up against such inhumanity, not cast a blind eye," said Perry.

Former US China envoy Jon Huntsman said through an aide that the policy "runs counter to the fundamental value of human life" and that he was "heartbroken" that Beijing's approach "has cost millions of lives".

"As an adoptive father, whose daughter was abandoned by her parents in China, Governor Huntsman is intimately familiar with the impact of China's 'one-child' policy," said the aide, Tim Miller.

The comments came one day after Republican House Speaker John Boehner, the number-three US elected official, said he was "deeply troubled" by Biden's words and that the policy "should not be condoned by any American official".

Human rights low priority

Obama's "administration should be focusing on jobs for the American people, not encouraging foreign governments to utilise abortion as a means of population and deficit control", said Boehner.

The speaker urged the White House to provide "a correction or clarification" to Biden's comments.

Representative Chris Smith, a senior Republican who has long campaigned against the one-child policy, said that Biden's remarks laid bare how the administration has put a low priority on human rights.

"The only thing he is worried about is sustainability on the economic front. That's perverse and he really owes every Chinese woman and child who has been mistreated by this policy an apology," Smith said.

Smith said he planned a hearing in late September marking the 31st anniversary of the one-child policy and that "the vice-president is more than welcome to come and testify".

Senator Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, charged that Biden's remarks amounted to "trampling on the memory of the millions of children who have lost their lives at the hands of a Communist regime".

Ongoing Tiananmen massacre

The vice-president's statement also drew fire from a leader of the repressed Tiananmen Square protests, Chai Ling, who has become a born-again Christian and activist against the "one-child" policy.

"At best, it is a statement of ambiguity that gives permission to China to continue its brutal and coercive birth planning policy," said a statement from her advocacy group, All Girls Allowed.

"At worst, it is an endorsement of the exorbitant fines, severe beatings, and forced abortions and sterilisations that are performed on thousands of Chinese families every day - an ongoing Tiananmen massacre every hour," she said.

  • Wow! - 2011-08-24 11:26

    Frankly those Birth control methods are essential for the survival of man. As an animal species we are running rampant and overwhelming the world with our numbers. It was in the 1960's that the world reached a population of 2 billion (from the beginning of time) NOW (+/-50 years later)it is 7 billion.

      ben swart - 2011-08-24 11:52

      If you are pro-population control do us all a favor and off yourself, the world needs less of people like you!

      ben swart - 2011-08-24 11:58

      Why don't we get a population control policy that aborts people over the age of saaaay 70. Those retirees just waste space anyway. We can take their wealth and give it to the poor, now that is a good communistic view eh?

      zaatheist - 2011-08-24 12:00

      Look what is happening in East Africa. Monotonous cycles of starvation and the democracies giving food aid, then they breed again, cannot feed the burgeoning population, repeated starvation - We are the World again - give them more food, they breed again.

  • Bontage - 2011-08-24 11:29

    "We in the United Sates are firmly opposed to repugnant practices in China...but are not so opposed as to undertake any sanctions or issue any statements to that effect. Because we believe money to be more important than our claimed moral compasses."

  • FlightRisk - 2011-08-24 11:47

    Biden is one of the few elected officials with enough balz to tell it like it is, and he did so with the dignity of a U.S. Vice President and with appropriate diplomacy. Human beings can be great or we can be pure greed and distruction over others and this planet. Biden has just voiced that he is for the health and well-being of our beautiful planet and every single creature living on it. Thank you Joe Biden.

  • TGIL - 2011-08-24 11:55

    its simply ahead of its time and the only option available aside from murdering thousands. Anyone who disagrees on moral, or no doubt ignorantly religious views, is simply one of the masses without intellect to speak of. The Earth was flat once according to your ancesters

      ben swart - 2011-08-24 12:05

      Hey there are already 4 of you population control freaks that can go stand in a gas chamber. Pro-choice!

  • Sean - 2011-08-24 12:15

    "There can be no defence of a government that engages in compulsory sterilisation and forced abortions in the name of population control,". Of course not, indiscriminate breeding, mass famine and disease are far more civilised and acceptable. When will the world accept that this is a practical solution to a very real problem.

  • sabc10 - 2011-08-24 13:07

    Before this so called "birth control" the US was saying the opposite... it was criticising china for having no "birth control" at all. Americans need to seriously self reflect on its own problems instead of been so self righteous.

      sabc10 - 2011-08-24 13:20

      Say if the USA civilization existed more than 2000years ago and now had a population of 1.5 billion to uplift...I would seriously doubt it would be so " liberal " with its words. "Compulsory sterilisation" and "Forced abortions" is a gross exaggeration.

  • Agnostic - 2011-08-24 14:01

    It's easier to control births than to kill millions of people. However, I think the better way would be to let anyone over the age of 80 die of natural causes. Don't give them medication or hospitalization, do not revive in emergencies, people with terminal illnesses, Do not provide medications that let them live a month or a year longer and do not allow them to have children. There seriously needs to be some kind control otherwise the human species will die along with 80% of all other living things on the planet.

  • Currie_Mafia - 2011-08-24 15:34

    Oh, Shut up Biden...USA owes China trillions of dollars...This may be a war waging tactic...typical.

  • Currie_Mafia - 2011-08-24 15:35

    On the shores of the Black Sea ... It is raining , and the little town looks totally deserted . It is tough times , everybody is in debt , and everybody lives on credit . Suddenly , a rich tourist comes to town . He enters the only hotel , lays a 100 Euro note on the reception counter , and goes to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to choose one . The hotel proprietor takes the 100 Euro note and runs to pay his debt to the butcher . The butcher takes the 100 Euro note , and runs to pay his debt to the goat grower . The goat grower takes the 100 Euro note , and runs to pay his debt to the supplier of his feed and fuel . The supplier of feed and fuel takes the 100 Euro note and runs to pay his debt to the town's prostitute that in these hard times , gave him "services" on credit . The hooker runs to the hotel , and pays off her debt with the 100 Euro note to the hotel proprietor to pay for the rooms that she rented when she brought her clients there . The hotel proprietor then lays the 100 Euro note back on the counter so that the rich tourist will not suspect anything . At that moment , the tourist comes down after inspecting all the rooms , and takes his 100 Euro note , after saying that he did not like any of the rooms , and leaves town . No one earned anything . However, the whole town is now without debt, and looks to the future with a lot of optimism . And that , ladies and gentlemen , is how the United States is doing business today .

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