Canada Cuts off Chinese Women's Freedom in Order to Spite America's Face

Steven Mosher
By Joseph A. D'Agostino
PRI Weekly Briefing
10 December 2004
Vol. 6 / No. 39
Reproduced with Permission

Perhaps frustrated, together with France and Kofi Annan, with its inability to influence American foreign policy, Canada's government decided to increase sharply its annual contributions to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The official announcement of the increase just happened to coincide with President George W. Bush's visit to America's small northern neighbor.

Canada has chosen to ignore the evidence of China's coercive population control program and UNFPA's assistance to it—or perhaps she doesn't care. This Tuesday, December 14, the House International Relations Committee under the guidance of Rep. Chris Smith (R.-N.J.) will hear new testimony of abuses in China's one-child-per-couple policy. Human Rights in China reported November 24 that it "has learned from sources in China that a long-term campaigner against China's coercive family planning policies, Mao Hengfeng, has been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in custody at a Reeducation Through Labor (RTL) Camp in Shanghai. Mao has been protesting and petitioning for 15 years since she was dismissed from her job because of an out-of-plan pregnancy."

Bush now redirects about $34 million a year in UNFPA funding away from the agency because of its continued assistance to Communist China's coercive program. In a post-election lame-duck session of Congress last month, UNFPA supporters tried and failed to get legislative language passed that would have rescinded the President's authority to withhold the funds. Under current law, the administration may redirect UNFPA funds if it finds that the agency is helping coercive population control programs.

Shortly afterward, and during Bush's visit to Canada, Canadian Minister of International Cooperation Aileen Carroll announced on December 1 her government's intention to increase by 28% Canada's annual contribution to the UNFPA. (In a news release issued that day, which was also World AIDS Day, the Canadian International Development Agency referred to the radical social agenda that also lies behind Canada's involvement in such international programs by citing its commitment to "taking on the important issue of gender inequality and HIV/AIDS"). Canada's UNFPA funding will increase to "$67.4 million over four years [including] $58.4 million to the UNFPA's ongoing work in the areas of sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS among women and girls. The remaining $9 million will help improve the distribution of reproductive health supplies, such as condoms, which are in very short supply in developing countries."

Two days before the announcement, the Toronto "Star" got the story, spun to it by Canadian officials as a poke at the United States. "'Being friends with the United States doesn't mean agreeing with everything,' said a senior adviser in Prime Minister Paul Martin's government. . .," reported the newspaper on November 29. "Until now, Canada has preferred to make its opposition to the [American] boycott known more tactfully, allowing the dollars of its continuing contributions to speak for themselves. . . . Canada has never supported the U.S. boycott and has quietly, if somewhat diplomatically, tried to help make up for the missing $34 million over the past few years with modest increases."

"It is shocking and disgraceful that the Canadian government should approve any increase in funding to the UNFPA without making any of its own efforts to investigate allegations of UNFPA's involvement in forced abortions and sterilizations in China," said Samantha Singson of Canada's Campaign Life Coalition in response.

What have previous investigations shown? Secretary of State Colin Powell, no friend to the pro-life cause, found that the heavy fines imposed on Chinese women for having too many children were, of course, coercing them—most of whom are poor—to refrain from having more or aborting those they conceive. UNFPA does not directly coerce women, but its involvement in the People's Republic of China (PRC) assists government officials in their efforts, he said. "UNFPA is helping improve the administration of the local family planning offices that are administering the very social compensation fee and other penalties that are effectively coercing women to have abortions," Powell concluded in July 2002. A State Department fact-finding team had previously declared in May of that year, "In the 32 counties in which UNFPA is involved, the population control programs of the PRC retain coercive elements in law and practice." Sometimes, the team said, fines for having more than one child can equal two to three years' income.

Just a few months before, in December 2001, PRI investigators issued their own findings after visiting the county of Sihui in Guangdong Province, 100 miles northwest of Hong Kong. They found that UNFPA shared office space with the local Chinese population controllers. Says their report, "Coercive family planning policies in Sihui include: age requirements for pregnancy; birth permits; mandatory use of IUDs; mandatory sterilization; crippling fines for non-compliance; imprisonment for non-compliance; destruction of homes and property for non-compliance; forced abortion and forced sterilization."

PRI will assist Congressman Smith in publicizing the truth about China. We hope that the government of Canada, as well as the other funders of the UNFPA, will listen and come to value the lives of Chinese children and the freedom of Chinese women.