A case of forced abortion—not uncommon but here documented in rare detail—is breathing new life into the smoldering resentment of China’s one-child policy, the Economist reports:
Even three years ago, Ms Feng’s suffering might have gone unnoticed outside the remote village in the north-western province of Shaanxi where she lives—just another statistic in China’s family-planning programme. But her relatives uploaded the graphic pictures onto the internet, and soon microblogs had flashed them to millions of people across the country. Chinese citizens expressed their outrage online. It is not just the treatment of Ms Feng that they deplore. It is the one-child policy itself.
Prominent voices joined in the criticism. “The outrageous and violent forced- abortion incident in June is not unique to Shaanxi”, wrote Liang Jianzhang, on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. Mr Liang is chief executive of Ctrip, one of China’s most successful travel companies. “Abolition of the absurd family-planning policy is the only way to root out this kind of evil,” he went on. Mr Liang’s post has been retweeted more than 18,000 times.
Social media has revolutionized the way information is disseminated across China’s increasingly tech-savvy population. It is becoming harder and harder for the government to hide its dirty laundry.
This incident also serves to reinforce what has been known in China for quite some time: that the “One-Child” policy is an outdated relic of the Maoist era. Its original rationale was to prevent out-of-control population growth that would impoverish the nation. Far from being impoverished, however, the Chinese citizen of today has a far higher income than ever before, further contributing to an already rising national GDP. Extra children are no longer an economic liability, they are important indicator of continued growth, especially among the poor, rural families that cannot afford to pay the fine for multiple births.
As Bob Dylan would say, “the times they are a-changin.’”