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Coercive Family Planning In China

Thousands of Chinese took to the streets recently in Bobai County in the southern part of Guangxi Province to protest local officials' harsh enforcement of China's one-child policy. According to news reports, there was considerable damage to property, injury and possible loss of life. Some twenty-eight people have since been charged with instigating the violent protests.

The events in Bobai were reportedly sparked when local officials responsible for implementing the county's birth-limitation policies imposed steep fines on persons accused of having more than one child, even if they had paid a fine previously. Officials confiscated their personal property and threatened to knock holes in the homes of people who refused to pay the fines.

The riots occurred just over a month after reports that officials in a separate part of Guangxi were involved in forced abortions.

The United States is seriously concerned about the reported abuses in these areas of Guangxi. The U.S. is also seriously concerned about the national-level policies that severely restrict the rights of couples to plan their families as they choose, policies that have led to instances of forced abortions and sterilizations.

The United States supports basic rights, including the rights of parents to decide how many children that they will have. The United States has long held that China's birth-limitation policies are coercive in both law and practice. Moreover, the United States is committed to calling every government to account that treats the basic rights of its citizens as options rather than, as President George W. Bush put it, "the non-negotiable demands of human dignity."