Uyghur children: Flickr / centralasiatravellerForced abortions can still occur in China under the one-child policy, as a case that has been brought to international attention shows. An ethnic woman in the north-western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region who is six months pregnant was forcibly taken by police to a hospital early this week to have the baby, her third child, aborted. However, pressure from the United States led to the abortion being abandoned. “I brought her home,” the local population control committee chief told Radio Free Asia. “She wasn’t in good enough health to have an abortion.”

The one-child policy applies mainly to majority Han Chinese and allows ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs, to have additional children, with peasants permitted to have three children and city-dwellers two. But while Tursun is a peasant, her husband is from the city, so their status is unclear. The government also uses financial incentives and disincentives to keep the birth-rate low. Couples can pay steep fines to have more children, although the fines are well beyond most people’s means.

The official website China Xinjiang Web reports that in three almost exclusively Uyghur areas, women over 49 with only one child are entitled to a one-time payment of 3,000 yuan (US$440), with the couple receiving 600 yuan ($88) yearly thereafter. The government plans to spend 25.6 million yuan ($3.7m) this year rewarding families who have followed the population policy, which it claims has prevented the births of some 3.7 million people in Xianjiang over the last 30 years.

The policy is enforced more strictly in cities, but penalties for exceeding the quota can be severe, including job losses, demotions, or expulsion from the Communist Party. Officials at all levels are subject to rewards or penalties based on whether they meet population targets set by their administrative region. ~ Radio Free Asia, Nov 18

 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet