WASHINGTON -- The White House has sought to clarify that it opposes China's population control policy in the wake of Vice President Joe Biden's refusal to "second-guess" a program marked by forced abortion and involuntary sterilization.
Foes of China's policy, however, expressed skepticism, saying the Obama administration's actions do not support its latest claims.
In a major address Aug. 21 in China, Biden said the communist country's controversial policy "has been one which I fully understand" and which "I'm not second-guessing."
On Aug. 23, the White House issued a statement in an effort to quell the outcry that had ensued from the Chinese program's foes -- including pro-life leaders, Republican congressmen and GOP presidential candidates.
Biden "believes such practices are repugnant," a vice presidential spokesperson said, according to Fox News. "The Obama Administration strongly opposes all aspects of China's coercive birth limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization."
The leaders of two organizations that seek to combat China's coercive program and its resultant ills -- such as a growing gender imbalance and sexual slavery -- expressed grave doubts about the Obama administration's asserted opposition.
"Should we believe that this administration 'strongly opposes' these practices?" a skeptical Reggie Littlejohn asked in a written statement.
"Actions speak louder than words," the president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers wrote. As evidence of her skepticism, Littlejohn cited the Obama administration's restoration of funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which has been found to support China's population control program. President Obama reinstituted support for UNFPA in 2009 after President Bush withheld funding during the final seven years of his administration. The U.S. has provided more than $100 million the last two years to the UNFPA.
Littlejohn also said the current administration provides money for the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). The China Family Planning Association, an IPPF member, "plays a very important role in China's family planning programme," according to its website, and "supports the present family planning policy of the government."
"In China, a woman's body is not her own," Littlejohn wrote. "It is the domain of the State. To fund organizations that work hand in glove with China's 'womb police' does not constitute 'strong opposition' to forced abortion and forced sterilization. Rather it constitutes complicity.
"If the Obama administration is sincere in saying it 'strongly opposes ... forced abortion and sterilization,' then it will either insist that UNFPA and IPPF cease operation in China, or it will defund these organizations," she said.
Chai Ling, founder of All Girls Allowed, applauded the White House's statement but said it was not enough.
"The magnitude of the tragedy merits much more than a statement from Mr. Biden's office," Chai said in a written statement, adding that the Obama administration "has yet to issue a clear call to end the Policy, which is harmful both to the Chinese and American people."
Chai, a Chinese native who lives in the United States, called for Democrats to speak out.
"Where are the political left in this modern-day freedom movement? Forced abortions and mass gendercide certainly call for action from both sides of the aisle," she said.
"The political right is exposing the injustice.... Democrats, we know you also stand for justice.... Where are you in this movement?"
In its more than three decades, the government-mandated policy has produced a gender imbalance in the world's most populous country. The use of ultrasound technology has fueled this disparity. In a culture that favors males, parents often choose abortion when they learn their unborn child is a female. Infanticide, especially of females, also has been reported.
There are now 119 Chinese boys born for every 100 girls, Littlejohn said.
The Chinese policy generally limits couples in urban areas to one child and those in rural areas to two, if the first is a girl. Parents in cities may have second babies if the husband and wife are both only children.
Penalties for violations of China's population control policy have included fines, arrests and the destruction of homes, as well as forced abortion -- even in the final trimester -- and sterilization.
Biden's controversial remarks came during a speech at Sichuan University in Chengdu in southwestern China. He answered a question on the U.S. deficit by referring to the need to deal with federal entitlement programs such as Medicare, which he described as a "safety net." He also cited China's lack of a "safety net."
"Your policy has been one which I fully understand -- I'm not second-guessing -- of one child per family," Biden said, according to a White House transcript. "The result being that you're in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable."