Congressmen Warn China: Stop Abuses or Lose 2008 Olympics

Two U.S. congressmen, frustrated by China’s coercive abortion practices, are calling for the cancellation of 2008 Olympic games in Beijing unless the communist nation ends its state-sanctioned one-child policy.

Representatives Chris Smith (R.-N.J.) and Tom Tancredo (R.-Colo.) made the demands on China at a congressional hearing called Tuesday to shed light on the case of Mao Hengfeng, who was forced to undergo an abortion and is currently being subjected to torture. Mao’s pregnancy 15 years ago violated China’s family planning policy, and her protests since then landed her in one of the country’s “re-education through labor” camps.

“One of the few things we have available to us right now is this issue of the Olympics,” Tancredo said. “We could draw a lot of attention, even if we could get the movement started. Whether it’s successful or not, if there was actually a real threat to China, perhaps the world might step away from this because of the ugly kind of press and attention it’s getting.”

After the House International Relations Committee wrapped up the sometimes-emotional testimony of its witnesses, Smith, the panel’s vice chairman, told HUMAN EVENTS he would likely propose a resolution at the beginning of the 109th Congress addressing this situation in China. Smith repeatedly ridiculed Europeans and other members of the United Nations for doing little to demand changes from China.

Tuesday’s hearing brought together two assistant secretaries at the State Department who told the committee that China had a long way to go before it corrected the human rights abuses stemming from its one-child policy. Arthur E. Dewey, assistant secretary for population, refugees, and migration, told the committee getting the rest of the world to take China’s abuses seriously remains a problem.

“China’s birth planning law and policies retain harshly coercive elements in law and practice. Forced abortion and sterilization are egregious violations of human rights, and should be of concern to the global human rights community,” Dewey said. “Unfortunately, we have not seen willingness in other parts of the international community to stand with us on these human rights issues.”

Smith and Tancredo’s solution–tying continued abuses to the 2008 Olympics–would shed light on the problem and might also motivate China where U.S. pressure alone has not.

“Frankly, there really aren’t that many things, in the practical sense, that we can do,” Tancredo said. “We can express outrage, and we’ve certainly done it and we’ll continue to do it. That will not change the situation in China as we’ve heard. There is no way this kind of pressure will have the desired effect. We have to have something that really matters.”

The troubling situation facing Mao prompted the hearing, even though few members of Congress remain in Washington. The committee’s ranking member, Rep. Tom Lantos (D.-Calif.), made a brief appearance to call on China to halt the torture of Mao immediately. Lantos also criticized the fees charged to families who don’t comply with the Chinese government’s one-child policy. Based on income levels in the United States, he said the fees would amount to $300,000 for a family having a child above the prescribed quota.