“June 1 is the most memorable day of the year for hundreds of millions of children in China. It is “Children’s Day,” a national holiday where kids enjoy free access to cinemas, parks and museums while their schools throw celebration parties. This year, the Chinese government will celebrate it at the same time as the Shanghai Expo, a $58 billion extravaganza. The real attention-grabber of the Expo is Miguelin, a 21-foot-tall animatronic baby to show that “all our actions have direct consequences on our children’s future.”
Nowhere is such reflection more important than in China, where the consequences of the government’s barbaric one-child policy have been catastrophic. For more than 20 years, the government’s family planning bureaucracy has been carrying out this coercive population control measure, ruthlessly wielding its power over the reproductive choices of every Chinese woman. Women are forced to obtain a birth permit to have a child. Those who don’t comply have been forced against their will to suffer through abortions and sterilization.
‘Abort it! Kill it!’
Amnesty International and the U.S. State Department have both properly criticized China’s one-child policy for contributing to infanticide. It is a charge that even some of the propagandists in China’s totalitarian regime would not dispute. The government plasters a number of chilling slogans throughout China that are short on nuance. “Better 10 graves than one birth,” reads one slogan. “Abort it! Kill it! Terminate it! You just cannot give birth to him or her,” reads another official sign written on a long red banner stretched across the entire side of a building…”
“…Fighting for freedom
The last time I celebrated Children’s Day was in 1989. As one of the student leaders of the Tiananmen Square protests, I was given the honor of greeting the children as they walked into the square. It was a time of great hope and enthusiasm. Just three days later, the tanks rolled in as we helplessly witnessed the government firing on its own defenseless citizens. In my subsequent escape from China, many brave men and women risked their lives to protect me and get me to safety.
Today a brave network of people in China still are risking their lives to protect innocent women and children from the brutality of the Chinese government. And here in America, half a world away, there are a number of heroes, such as Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who’s holding congressional hearings, and activist Reggie Littlejohn, who’s dedicating her life to exposing to the world China’s forced abortion and “gendercide.”
Since moving to the U.S., I have been blessed to marry the man of my dreams, and we have three beautiful daughters. Every June 1, I make sure to remind them how lucky we are to live in a country that values personal freedom more than hollow public pageants. When I tuck them in, I give them a kiss, read them a story and say a prayer for the women in China, that one day soon they may have the same freedom and safety that I have found in America and which is the birthright of my three little girls.
Chai Ling, a leader of China’s 1989 pro-democracy movement, is founder of All Girls Allowed, which is dedicated to ending human rights abuses committed against mothers and baby girls under China’s one-child policy.