Heading into Wednesday's competition, China was a distant 11th in the medal count. For this year's Olympic host -- and the world's largest population -- the ranking must come as a disappointment. If it is, President Xi Jinping isn't about to let on. "I don't care how many gold medals Chinese athletes win this time," he claimed. But there have to be moments when even he must wonder how much they could have accomplished with the generations China destroyed. How many future medalists were lost to the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) one-child policy? How many once-in-a-lifetime athletes never got to stand on a podium because the CCP treated life so callously? The world will never know.
To most people, the number 400 million is too much to comprehend. And yet, that's how many innocent children were annihilated under the communist party's ruthless population control program. From 1979-2015, the body count was so astronomical that it was higher than America and the United Kingdom's populace combined. And those are just the physical casualties. It says nothing of the other victims -- the traumatized mothers, fathers, grandparents, and would-be brothers and sisters. To them, the nightmares are forever.
Every one of those 400 million children had a story. For some parents, even remembering is too much. The policy has been gone for six years, but the shadows it left behind still haunts them. "They grabbed my wife's body like they were grabbing a pig," one man said emotionally, "four or five people holding her hands and legs and head and injected a shot into her belly." She was seven months pregnant -- far enough along to have a healthy, vibrant child. Ten hours later, the baby she delivered, a boy, was dead. They dropped him in a plastic bag, refusing to let the mother hold him, and ordered the father to bury him on the nearby slope.
Millions of parents have his same bad dreams -- mothers who ran for the hills, only to be caught by government officials, thrown in vans, and transported to clinics where they're tied down to abortion tables. Asked about the day authorities brought her in, Ah-Li flinched. "It crippled me," she said. "I couldn't stand up straight for weeks afterwards. I had to spend hundreds of yuan on painkillers." But for some women, there is no other option. In villages and rural suburbs, where government officials kept blackboards of the number of children per family, mothers who were tempted to keep their second pregnancies were threatened. "They told me they would peel the skin off my relatives, and I would only see their corpses if I didn't come back," Feng Zhongxia remembered. "My aunts, uncles, cousins, my pregnant younger sister, my in-laws, they were all taken to the family planning office," she said. "Many of them didn't get food or water, and all of them were severely beaten."
Now, after 35 years of this violence, the Chinese government is desperately trying to course-correct. Faced with a population in surprising decline, and a gender imbalance from decades of viewing girls as "maggots in the rice," the regime backed off the one-child policy in 2016. When that didn't work, the government announced a three-child policy last spring. But it wasn't, as FRC's Mary Szoch points out, because they suddenly valued human life.
"When China began their one-child policy in the late 1970s, what we saw was a lot of propaganda about how only having one child would make China a prosperous and powerful nation. Well, what China has realized is that a nation without children is a nation without hope. And there's not hope for the future in China." She points to the unintended side effects -- the increased suicide rate among women and the older population, for starters. Parents who've lost their only child have no one to care for them, leading couples like Xu Mina and his wife to live a life of grief and despondence.
"He spends his days on the couch in front of a TV, trying to block out memories of his dead son. He blames fate for the car accident that killed the 23-year-old in September. But for the loneliness that will haunt him and his wife the rest of their lives, Xu blames the Chinese government," the Washington Post explains in a story about the fallout. "China told the couple that they could have only one child and threatened to take away everything if they didn't listen. They were good citizens, Xu said, 'so for 20 years, we put our whole future and hope into our son.' Now, the couple have no one..."
And while it's easy for the West to point the finger, the sad reality is that America isn't too far behind. For the better part of 50 years, we've suffered from a bloody legacy of unlimited abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. "We need to be very cautious [assigning blame to China]," Szoch agreed, "because we certainly can see here that we have allowed our culture to do the same thing that the Chinese government has done. We have allowed our culture to tell women: if you don't have children, you will be prosperous. If you don't have children, you will advance your career. If you don't have children, you will succeed. That's what the Chinese government has said since the 1980s, and that's what American culture has said since 1973."
One thing Americans need to realize, she went on, is that abortion was first legalized by a communist nation -- Russia -- as a tool to dismantle the family. Of course, the far-Left might not be quite so open about its intentions, but when we try to make the family serve the economy instead of the other way around, we're no better than a communist country. Unlike China, we still have the courage and conviction to confront that reality. Let's hope -- for the sake of our future -- we do.