- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 12, 2002

A White House team will leave for China today to investigate whether U.S. contributions to a U.N. population agency are funding forced abortions.
At stake is $34 million in U.S. funds, approved by Congress for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) but frozen by President Bush until the team returns.
William Brown, a former deputy assistant secretary of state and ambassador to Thailand and Israel, and two others will leave today for a weeklong trip to China to determine whether Beijing's population policy violates U.S. law.
"We want them to find that we promote and adhere to international human rights standards in China as we do anywhere else in the world," Stirling Scruggs, a UNFPA spokesman, said.
The Chinese government, which declined to comment for this article, has agreed to let the delegation go wherever it wishes, provided it gives 24-hour notice.
"A day is more than enough time for the Chinese government to alert officials of their coming, and for cover stories of 'voluntarism' to be in place," said Steve Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute (PRI), a Front Royal, Va.-based group that first made the accusation that UNFPA is using U.S. money to support China's coercive family planning policy.
"They don't have a snowball's chance of finding anything," said Scott Weinberg, another PRI official.
UNFPA says that it does not use American money for its Chinese programs, and that its work in China is limited to 32 counties where the one-child family policy is no longer enforced.
A 1985 law called the Kemp-Kasten Amendment prohibits U.S. funding to any country that is determined by the president to engage in forced abortion or involuntary sterilization.
In 1984, President Reagan imposed an administrative condition called the "Mexico City policy" after a global population conference held in the city that year that bars U.S. population funds being used in countries that promote abortions. President Clinton removed that condition in 1993, but President Bush reinstated it in 2001.
Congress appropriated the $34 million for UNFPA in December. But days later Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican, and 54 other members of Congress wrote Mr. Bush urging him to withdraw the funding, citing charges that the UNFPA funds are used for China's coercive family planning programs.
Mr. Bush froze the funding in December, and following pleas by UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid in January to release the money, agreed to send a fact-finding team to China to settle the issue.
On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill requiring that funds allotted for UNFPA be disbursed no later than July 10 unless the agency is found to violate U.S. laws. The amendment, offered by Rep. Jim Kolbe, Arizona Republican and chairman of the foreign operations subcommittee, and Rep. Nita M. Lowey, New York Democrat and ranking member of the subcommittee, was approved 32-31 shortly after midnight.
UNFPA "saves lives it's that simple. By withholding these funds, we are hurting efforts to protect poor women and children around the world," Mrs. Lowey said.
The U.S. contribution equals 13 percent of UNFPA's $260 million budget, and Mr. Scruggs said the withholding of funding already has resulted in cutbacks in staffing at the agency's New York headquarters and in its essential services in various parts of the world.
The State Department announced last week that the other two members of the team will be Bonnie Glick, a career Foreign Service officer who also worked at the White House and the U.S. mission to the United Nations; and Dr. Theodore Tong, associate dean and professor of public health at the University of Arizona.
Mr. Brown, who now serves as chairman of the board of trustees of the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was not available for comment. The team is expected to submit its report by late June.
Nick Manetto, spokesman for Mr. Smith, also expressed concerns about the delegation's investigation and said the congressman "hopes the team will be vigilant."
The State Department's annual report on human rights around the world released in March said that in the 32 Chinese counties where the U.N. agency operates local Chinese offices "have eliminated the system of overall countywide birth and population targets that tends to generate coercive enforcement."
UNFPA "is simply the only hope for convincing China that voluntarism works and that force and coercion are actually counterproductive," said Werner Fornos, president of the Population Institute, a Washington group that advocates increased global funding for population stabilization.
Edward Leigh, a Conservative Catholic member of British Parliament who led a three-member fact-finding team to China last month, said he found no evidence of coercion in the areas where UNFPA operates.
"On the contrary, there was evidence UNFPA is trying to persuade China away from the program of strict targets and assessments," Mr. Leigh told The Washington Times.
"My personal line is British or U.S. funds should not be used for coercive family planning, and I found no evidence of such practices in China," said Mr. Leigh, who visited Yunan province a week after Easter.


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