On October 17, the House International Relations Committee held a hearing to discuss whether China was continuing with its coercive population control policy, which forces women to undergo sterilizations and abortions. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) chaired the hearing, saying, “One of the most horrific abuses ever practiced on women and children is forced abortion.” He added, “The terror of forced abortion is a human rights abuse of the greatest magnitude—and it is carried out against women and children with appalling and sickening efficiency in China.”
Rep. Smith urged Congress to reevaluate its support for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Noting that in 1998, UNFPA signed a four-year $20 million contract with China, he said, “Their monetary support and systematic whitewashing of the crimes of forced abortion and sterilization in China is an indictment against them.”
While Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) agreed that these “abhorrent practices violate every principle of human decency,” he noted that UNFPA has launched a $4.5 million campaign to provide Afghan refugees with clean supplies to deliver babies. “The UNFPA is doing its share to mitigate the impending humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and save lives,” he said, adding: “Today’s hearing, however, is not focused on this important initiative, but on one small element of UNFPA’s work—its programs in China.”
Rep. Lantos outlined safeguards in place to ensure that U.S. funds are not spent in China, saying that the U.S. contribution to UNFPA is reduced dollar-for-dollar by any amount that UNFPA spends in China, and UNFPA is required to keep U.S. funds in a separate account. “By establishing these safeguards, we have permitted the UNFPA to continue its valuable work in other areas….UNFPA deserves America’s wholehearted support….Let us not lose sight of the valuable work it is doing around the globe,” he said.
All of the witnesses testified about their personal experiences in China, stating that there was widespread evidence that China was continuing its coercive one-child policy. Josephine Guy of America 21 told the committee about interviews she conducted in China at the end of September. “The abuses we documented during this investigation are recent, ongoing, rampant and unrelenting. And they exist in a county where the United Nations Population Fund claims that women are free to determine the timing and spacing of pregnancy,” she said.
Stephen Mosher of the Population Research Institute noted, “Despite official denials and intermittent efforts to discourage some of the more blatant manifestations of physical, that is, bodily, coercion, coercion continues to be, as it has been from the late 1970s, an integral part of the program.”
A UNFPA representative was invited to testify before the committee but declined.