Interim staff

The Chinese government is allowing young children to die in its state-run orphanages as a ruthless form of population control, says an authority on Asian demographics and family life.

Steven Mosher, Director of Asian Affairs for Human Life International (HLI), made the accusation in late September during a media conference in Toronto. Mosher has studied the effects of China’s population control practices since 1979.

Mosher said abuses in state-run orphanages are the result of the Chinese government’s official one-child per family policy. “The state-run orphanages have become an adjunct of China’s population control program,” Mosher said. “(They) are a place where surplus babies are selectively targeted for elimination.”

Females vulnerable

Female children are especially vulnerable to the policy, Mosher said. Because the majority of Chinese parents prefer male offspring, females run of the risk of sex-selective abortion, infanticide or abandonment. Those who wind up in orphanages remain in danger of being left to die of hunger or neglect.

Mosher said up to 90 per cent of the thousands of babies sent to orphanages are female. Female children are less desirable for adoption, leaving child-care workers under intense pressure to bring the number of children down to acceptable levels.

“Whenever the number of infants exceeds a certain level, the child-care workers agree among themselves to bring the population back to normal by eliminating those children who are smaller, weaker or sick by withholding food and water,” Mosher said.

Back by investigation from the Hong Kong-based human rights group Asia Watch, Human Life International estimates up to 90 per cent of Chinese orphans are left to die at state-run orphanages. The organization tracked the fate of 41 infants who had been brought to an orphanage over a seven month period in 1995. Of the 41, on baby was adopted, one was returned to its parents, eight remain unaccounted for, and the remaining 31 died.

The evidence was given to Human Life International by orphanage employees who requested anonymity for fear of government reprisals. Their information became the basis of two television documentaries produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

To help alleviate the situation at Chinese state-run orphanages, HLI has initiated a campaign to finance orphanages, run by Chinese Christians, and to help establish additional privately-run child care facilities. HLI has also called on the Chinese government to relax its strict policy on international adoption, thereby allowing orphans to be placed with families in other countries.

Mosher urged world governments to press China to uphold the basic human rights of its own people. “By its silence the international community has tacitly condoned the blatant and ongoing abuse of women, children and families in China,” he said. “Unless people of character and conscience make the plight of these children an international issue, millions more are doomed to die.”

Meanwhile, Campaign Life Coalition is supporting an international 40-day prayer pilgrimage began September 15 and culminated October 25 with demonstrations outside Chinese embassies and consulates throughout the world.

‘Immense sufferings’

Demonstrators were hoping to present Chinese embassy and consulate official with a petition citing the “immense sufferings” of the Chinese people resulting from the one-child population control policy.

The petition, prepared by the Global society For Life, reads in part: “Let it be known by all people and by all authorities present and future that we pray for God to stop the one-child policy. These many faults and terrible crimes visited upon the people of China by the one-child policy will not escape the judgment of God. For the guilty we will plead for mercy, for all we will pray to fear God. His power can destroy the one-child policy.”