by Chris Gacek
January 30, 2013
Earlier this week, I wrote about a recent FRC event discussing China’s forced population control policies. This weekend, CBS’s news program, “Sunday Morning” carried a feature on the world-famous Chinese dissident and artist Ai WeiWei. The story focused on an exhibit, running until February 24, at the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.
In October 2012, the British magazine, the New Statesman, published an edition edited by Ai WeiWei containing numerous interviews. The Mandarin edition is available in PDF here. This edition contains an interview of the blind anti-one-child policy activist, Chen Guangcheng, by Ai WeiWei. An English translation of the Ai WeiWei-Chen Guangcheng conversation may be found here. Mr. Chen and his family fled China in May 2012 and now live in New York City.
It is a very powerful interview, here is one paragraph:
Ai Weiwei: You understand the issues surrounding the one-child policy and have participated in relevant work on this topic. Could you discuss your views on it?
Chen Guangcheng: Human life is of paramount importance to the traditional morals of Chinese culture. This concept has been trampled on by uncivilised policies and behaviour – including forced abortions – to the point of complete devastation. After decades of violent abortions, people have lost almost all respect and regard for life. It isn’t just ordinary parents who are affected by the one-child policy: friends, relatives and neighbours can also be implicated. And an inevitable result is an ageing society. But the most detrimental effect of the policy is the destruction of the value of life.
Later in the article there is this stunning, illuminating exchange:
Ai Weiwei: There is a huge industrial chain – every area has a family planning office and a control department. The system is a massive employer.
Chen Guangcheng: Yes. And it’s not just about employment: there are wider economic interests as well. There were 130,000 forced sterilisations and abortions. This has created an industry, the income from which is extremely high. Over 60 million people are affected by this policy – your neighbours, for example. If you have violated family planning and become pregnant and they cannot find you, your neighbours in a 50-metre radius will be arrested. In other words, they will use your house as the centre of a 50-metre circle, arresting at least five other households.
If you count the four directions from the house, at least 20 families will be affected. They will arrest one person from each family and lock them away to “study”. Every day, they have to pay 200 yuan as their tuition fee and they will be beaten once in the morning and once at night. Therefore, people do whatever they can to find the pregnant woman. Because the families are worried, they call on their relatives to bribe the officials to release the person arrested. They pay between 3,000 and 5,000 yuan. After they hand over the money, the officials think of a way to send the person home but they can still be rearrested after three to five days. And then they have to pay again to get the person rereleased. There won’t even be a receipt. That’s a tremendous amount of income. If you cut off the revenue stream of these family planning officials, of course they will be angry.
I have to admit that I have never heard this before. Well, let’s all enjoy our cheap Chinese imports,America.