Media commentary by Paul Tuns
The Interim

The Huang family of the village Caidian in the Chinese province of Hubei already had three children when local family planning officials heard about Mrs. Huang’s pregnancy. The officials tried but failed to induce an abortion by injecting Huang with salt water. The baby survived the botched abortion attempt and the officials visited the family in the hospital to order the father to kill his own child. He hid the baby but when the family returned home, five government officers were waiting. They snatched away the child and, in front of the parents, drowned it in a rice paddy.

This is the brutal enforcement of China’s barbaric one-child policy. It is unsurprising that a regime that forces women to undergo abortions and sterilizations might creep into infanticide. Indeed, the one-child policy has led to many families killing newborn girls because of a preference for male children.

But the government’s complicity in infanticide goes beyond creating conditions conducive to it. It practises it. Routinely.

Steven Mosher noted in the Population Research Institute’s Sept. 6 Weekly Briefing, “The deliberate murder of a newborn infant, however shocking it may be to the West, is an everyday occurrence in China.”

What is not an everyday occurrence, is that Xinhua, China’s official news agency, actually reported it. The Western media quickly picked up on it.

The two leading British broadsheets, the London Telegraph and the London Times, both had major stories Aug. 24 reporting the infanticide. The Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal and Vancouver Sun reprinted the Times account on their front page (theJournal as its top story) and the Montreal Gazette on its first page of international news.

The Vancouver Sun also ran a front-page column by Jonathan Manthrope on the effects of families killing their newborn girls because of a cultural preference for sons. Strongly condemning the one-child policy, Manthrope said, “Local family planning units can be tyrannical in the extreme,” keeping “dossiers on each woman of child-bearing age, often including their menstrual cycles.”

(Ironically, the Sun also ran a column on their Forum page by radical pro-abortion advocate Joyce Arthur, a leader of British Columbia’s Pro-Choice Action Network, defending her use of the term “pro-choice.” She claimed that no one favours abortion over birth; yet her publication, Pro-Choice Press, has not condemned the Chinese infanticide. Where is the “choice” in China?)

Several major outlets, such as the Toronto Star and New York Times and newsmagazines such as Maclean’s and Newsweek didn’t report the infanticide at all.

While the National Post was a day late reporting the news (by their own Araminta Wordsworth), it offered a poignant editorial Aug. 25, simply titled “Infanticide in China.” Beginning by pointing out the obvious, it noted, “It is a crime to have too many babies in China,” thus the “Huang family became criminals” because of the size of their family. The Post said pro-life and pro-choice views should “converge” on the issue because “there is no ‘reproductive choice’ involved when the government orders a baby to be killed against a mother’s wishes.” The Post said while China may not officially “prescribe” infanticide it “does encourage it.”

Its editorial concluded with a strong condemnation of China’s one-child policy. “Baby Huang is an emblem for the ineffably barbaric program of Malthusian liquidation that is Beijing’s family planning policy. What words can describe the boasted, systematic, and compulsory eradication of 300 million unborn children? Of all the horrors visited upon China by the Communist Party, the one-baby policy is surely the most unspeakably wicked.”

Considering the Post’s consistent and principled opposition to the horrors of communism, especially China’s, its condemnation could not have been stronger.

Three days after its first report, the Telegraph followed up with another article, “Anger sweeps China over baby-killers.” The Telegraph said, “China’s population-control policies allow petty bureaucrats across the country a free hand to ruin people’s lives as they extort bribes and gifts and dispense life-or-death decisions.” This despite the fact that in March, China announced a relaxation of the one-child policy. The Post editorial laughed at the claim the government would look into this case of infanticide and punish the killers.

The Globe and Mail didn’t notice the infanticide until Sept. 14, when it reported Canadian Alliance foreign affairs critic Monte Solberg asked for parliamentary hearings into human rights abuses in China and the infanticide case in particular. Bill Graham (Lib., Toronto Centre-Rosedale), chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee, said MPs could express their concern by adopting a non-binding resolution. But it’s clear that Parliament will not look at this issue before Jean Chretien’s planned trade mission to China in November.

Also, the U.S. Congress passed a bill allowing for Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China in September and the World Trade Organization is closer to accepting China as a full-fledged member.

So, while it appears the media has finally awakened and reported this grotesque use of state power, Western governments continue to turn a blind eye to such atrocities.