- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2002

BEIJING A decision by President Bush to suspend $34 million of funding to a U.N. body accused of assisting forced abortions in China is threatening to cloud his visit to Beijing this month.
By withholding the money from the U.N. Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), Mr. Bush has made clear his opposition to China's extreme population-control methods. Beijing is hoping to extend the controls, which restrict the majority of couples to one child, for another generation.
Beijing is furious with Mr. Bush, who has been swayed by reports implicating the UNFPA in abuses of the one-child policy. China's foreign ministry said that the United States had not made the "correct choice."
"The allegations by some American congressmen on the UNFPA's support for China's forced abortion and sterilization operations [are] totally groundless," said a spokesman.
"Some Americans, acting regardless of the facts, have lobbied for the U.S. to cancel its donation to the UNFPA. This is with ulterior intentions and is unfavorable for international co-operation in population control."
Complaints about UNFPA collusion with Chinese officials responsible for forcing women to terminate unauthorized pregnancies came late last year from the Population Research Institute (PRI), an American right-to-life research group.
Scott Weinberg, the PRI director of government affairs, conceded, however, that the administration would suffer a backlash from the powerful pro-China lobby if Mr. Bush criticized the one-child policy while visiting the country.
"If Bush makes the UNFPA issue into a question of China's one-child policy and into an attempt to reform communist China, then we lose, because the China lobby is too powerful here," he said. "Bush would never bring up UNFPA publicly, and highly unlikely privately, during such a trip."
Conservative members of Congress note that the president did not mention the issue on a trip to Shanghai in October. His decision on Jan. 12 to halt UNFPA funding has angered China, however, and is set to inject a sour note into this month's visit, starting on Feb. 21.
The trip has been portrayed by Beijing as marking the 30th anniversary of Richard Nixon's groundbreaking visit to China in 1972.
The PRI has campaigned to persuade Congress that the U.N. agency is ineligible for U.S. financing because it supports abortion services abroad. U.S. law prohibits grants of federal funds to any organization involved in providing abortions overseas, and Mr. Bush, in one of his first official acts, made clear that he unlike former President Bill Clinton would respect the restriction.
A PRI researcher, Josephine Guy, recently visited China incognito and claims to have witnessed a forced abortion in a county designated as a model family planning regime by the UNFPA.
Miss Guy gained access to Sihui county's family planning bureau to photograph the local UNFPA office.
At a local hospital later, she interviewed a 19-year-old woman minutes before family planning officials took her behind a curtain to perform a termination. "Would she like to keep her baby?" Miss Guy asked the teen-ager's friends as she was led away. "Oh, yes," came the reply, "but the law forbids it."
Steve Mosher, the head of the PEI, said the photographs and testimony obtained by Miss Guy proved that the U.N. body was violating its pledges not to assist abortion programs.
"The UNFPA has repeatedly been caught promoting abortion and sterilization under circumstances where informed consent is lacking, and even outright coercion is involved," he said.
A report issued by his group included pictures of houses that had been demolished by Chinese family planning officials in retaliation for the occupants' refusal to abide by the one-child policy.
Sarah Craven, of the UNFPA Washington office, said the agency had negotiated with the Chinese for two years to ensure that its county programs were not tainted by the zealotry or malpractice common in the implementation of the one-child policy.
"Our main goal is to show the Chinese that they can meet demographic goals without resorting to human-rights violations or coercion," she said.
In the drive to stabilize China's population at 1.6 billion by 2050, there have been millions of victims. Besides ordering abortions and sterilizations, family planning officials often grow wealthy from fines levied on people with no chance of legal redress.

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