Monday, April 22, 2013

Broken Fact: Public Reporting on Population Control and Infanticide in China in the 1980s

The Original Story:
On Page 255 of Bend, Not Break, Fu Ping made further claims on the impact of her infanticide research:
My findings wound up as the editor's comment in the Shanghai newspaper, which called for an end to the madness. The editorial comment was then picked up by China's national paper, the People's Daily in Beijing. It was the first time a Chinese official newspaper acknowledged that peasants were killing baby girls. The news spread to the international press, who used this acknowledgement as evidence of China's violations of human rights, prompting cries from the UN for economic sanctions. I unwittingly had set off a chain of events that, like toppling dominoes, resulted in a worldwide shaming of my country and its new leadership.
The Changed Story:
After no related editorials were found within the time frame of her research, Fu Ping clarified as:

Why does nobody else in China know that the UN placed sanctions on China in 1981? And how do you know that? 
A: I heard about the sanctions in China while awaiting my passport. I was told that the UN was unhappy about this issue. A quick web search shows that the American-based journalist Steven W. Mosher wrote about female infanticide in China in 1981. His book, called Broken Earth, was published in 1983 -- the same year I was waiting for my passport. Knowing this, it makes sense that I was asked to leave quietly. Anything else would have drawn more attention to the issue. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mosher successfully lobbied George W. Bush to cut UN funding for China. His story and the timeline are consistent with my experience. 
Didi Kirsten Tatlow of the International Herald Tribune concurred on the clarification:
By 1983, state news media were reporting on female infanticide. “At present, the phenomena of butchering, drowning and leaving to die female infants and maltreating women who have given birth to female infants have been very serious. It has become a grave social problem,” People’s Daily reported on March 3 of that year, according to a New York Times article dated April 11. 
The Debunking:
Once again, timeline should play a significant role here. Fu Ping's research and thesis, if actually existed, happened in early 1982. She was then supposedly arrested in the fall of 1982 and told to leave the country. Therefore, newspaper reporting in 1983 or later had absolute no relevance of her misfortune.

However, Fu Ping's research in 1982, if indeed publicized, was not the first public report of the issue either. According to Fang Zhouzi's research, as early as 1981, right after the one-child policy started, a couple of Chinese newspaper and magazine had already reported the criminal practice of killing baby girls influenced by the policy. The reports were even picked up by the American activist magazine Executive Intelligence Reviews in its Volume 8 issue of that year.

Of course, Fu Ping can plead innocence of now knowing these early reports that she honestly thought those phantom editorials were the first. But the more important thing here is, given the early open and public report, why would Fu Ping get into the kind of political trouble she said she endured if her work wasn't ground-breaking at all?

UN might not be happy with China. But anyone with political common sense would know that UN could never impose economic sanction to China, a member with veto power. In 1983, neither George W. Bush or George H. W. Bush was in power. There was indeed a policy change in the US to cut its funding for UN. That would be, at best, US sanction against UN, not UN against China.

Even if we accepted all of Fu Ping's clarification, the socalled international outcry on China's human rights would be a contribution made by the American Steven Mosher. What did that have to do with her own story?

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