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VP Joe Biden Stirs Debate on China's One-Child Policy

Vice President Joe Biden in China last weekend prompted renewed controversy over China's one-child policy, in remarks that seemed to condone the government rule.

"Your policy has been one which I fully understand – I'm not second-guessing – of one child per family," Biden told a crowd Sunday at Sichuan University, the keynote speech of his four-day trip to China.

Condemnation of Biden's remarks came swiftly from human rights groups and the pro-life sector, as well as from several political leaders. Many perceived Biden's comment as a softening of the U.S. diplomatic stance toward China's policy, which mandates that most families limit themselves to only one child and prioritizes male children above female.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser called the remark "pandering" on the SBA List blog. "Vice President Biden should be doing much more than second guessing the policy, he should be outright condemning it," Dannenfelser said.

Biden spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff sought to clarify Biden's comment in a statement reported by the conservative news site The Daily Caller on Tuesday evening. "The vice president believes [China's coercive birth limitation policies] practices are repugnant," she said.

Biden's remarks came in response to a question about U.S. debt. Biden compared the U.S. "baby boom" to China's one-child policy in that both have created an unsustainable problem. "The result being that you're in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people," Biden explained to the Chinese audience.

"He was arguing against the one-child policy to a Chinese audience," Barkoff explained in the statement. "[Biden] also pointed out, in China, that the policy is, as a practical matter, unsustainable."

Republican candidates for the presidential nomination Mitt Romney and Rick Perry and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) condemned the policy in response to Biden's comment. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on human rights who has worked to publicize the work of activist anti-gendercide organizations such as Christian group All Girls Allowed, called the remarks "outrageous" on conservative Laura Ingraham's radio show Tuesday morning.

"This is the worst, most pervasive act of violence against women anywhere in the world," Smith said. "The Vice President, in this outrageous statement, is showing the world that we do not care about Chinese women and Chinese babies."

Arguments have been made that the government mandate helps women—who are now greatly outnumbered by men in China—excel in career and education. The policy, initially implemented in 1979, was designed to control population growth in the world's most heavily-populated country. However, the policy has been linked to infanticide, forced abortion and sterilization. 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came under fire after suggesting human rights issues in China should not interfere with economic issues, though she has spoken out against the one-child practice in the past.

Groups such as All Girls Allowed have ramped up calls for the U.S. to take a less lenient position on the policy of the Chinese government as the U.S. has become more dependent on top-lender China.

Related Topics:Politics
Posted:August 24, 2011 at 10:03AM
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VP Joe Biden Stirs Debate on China's One-Child Policy