July 8, 2006


Chinese to Prosecute Peasant Who Resisted One-Child Policy: Decision Reveals Growing Clout of Beijing Hard-Liners (Philip P. Pan, 7/08/06, Washington Post)

The Chinese government is preparing to prosecute a blind peasant who exposed excesses by authorities in enforcing the one-child policy in eastern China, where local officials were accused by residents of forcing thousands of people to undergo sterilization or to abort pregnancies. The decision, disclosed by court officials Friday, follows a prolonged bureaucratic stalemate in the ruling Communist Party over how to handle the allegations in the city of Linyi, and it highlights the growing clout of hard-liners in the party since President Hu Jintao took office three years ago.

Chen Guangcheng, 34, the blind rural activist who drew international attention to a violent crackdown on unauthorized births in Linyi last year, is scheduled to be tried July 17 on charges of destruction of property and assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic, according to his attorney, Li Jinsong.

The charges stem from an incident in March in which Chen is accused of leading a protest against local officials who had illegally confined him to his house and who were beating villagers who tried to help him, Li and residents of Chen's village said.

Chen's trial could renew international scrutiny of China's population-control practices, and it represents a major setback for reformers in the government who have been trying to soften the one-child policy and eliminate the abuses long associated with it. [...]

For months, the party appeared torn about how to proceed, but the decision to prosecute Chen suggests that the Linyi officials have outmaneuvered others in the government who wanted to use the case to send a strong signal to local officials that forced sterilization and abortion would not be tolerated. [...]

Chen's case was also complicated by an internal party debate over the future of the one-child policy. Some party officials and scholars have urged the government to relax the policy, arguing that it now causes more harm than good and that China faces a retirement crisis as its working-age population shrinks. But provincial leaders and others in the party have resisted.

Note the idea that there are abuses "associated with" the policy, suggesting that the policy itself isn't abusive of every traditional concept of human decency.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 8, 2006 7:56 AM

Stop snickering, China is an upstanding member of the new UN human rights commission.

Posted by: ic at July 8, 2006 2:21 PM

The disarray in China now reminds me of beginning of the end of the Soviet Union. While Rome is figuratively burning, Nero is fiddling around trying to enforce the failed one-child program. Won't be long now.

Posted by: erp at July 8, 2006 8:01 PM