WASHINTON -- China has more than 1.2 billion people. But as President Barack Obama travels there next week for his first summit with China's leaders, some human rights activists are asking him to bring up the 400 million Chinese who don't exist.
They don't exist because of China's one-child policy and the campaign of forced abortions and sterilizations that have gone along with it.
Congressmen Frank Wolf, R-Va., and Chris Smith face, R-N.J, held a hearing Tuesday to focus on the effects of 30 years under the one-child policy in China.
At a news conference before the hearing Smith stated, "We believe this is the worst women's rights violation in the history of the world." If any American ought to know, it's Smith. He's held 27 hearings on the one-child policy.
Smith was joined at that news conference and hearing by human rights activists from both China and the U.S.
One read from an account of a woman dragged to a forced abortion, and left with the remains of her baby. She described women like her shoved together in a holding area like pigs for the slaughter. Others held up photos of banners and slogans in China that say things like "if you don't get an abortion, your house will be destroyed and your buffaloes will be confiscated."
Activist Reggie Littlejohn of Women's Rights Without Frontiers described the horrors in China that persecutes those caught pregnant with a second child.
"Women being literally dragged out of their homes in the middle of the night, or even in the middle of the day, strapped down to tables, pleading and crying, and then being forced to abort their babies," she said.
Littlejohn pointed out China's Communist Party brags about preventing 400 million births with its policy that allows a woman only one child. She stated, "It doesn't matter whether you're pro-choice or pro-life on this issue. No one supports forced abortion because it's not a choice."
Littlejohn wondered if there might not be some shame in the Chinese government over the millions of forced abortions. The actual number is kept a tightly-held state secret.
A Uyghur activist said if a woman tries to dodge forced abortion, sometimes her entire family will be arrested. Other panelists told of how millions of Chinese have been fined thousands of dollars per family for defying the one-child policy.
Part of the hearing also discussed the unintended consequences of the one-child policy.
Demographer Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute worried about what's going to happen to the hundreds of millions of elderly Chinese who'll be left without a support structure.
He said, "There's very rapid aging of the population but still very low income levels in the context where there is no national pension system and where now the family structure that would be supporting these old people is starting to fray."
Smith and the panelists called on Obama to forcefully confront China and not speak softly about the one-child policy and its many violations of human rights.
"Whenever they're downgraded, whenever we speak with soft tones, little or nothing happens," Smith said.
Leonard Leo, chairman of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom asserted, "Speaking softly to China about human rights is a fool's errand. History has shown it simply does not work."
Littlejohn called directly on the president: "I say to you, President Obama, bring up this issue about forced abortion in China. Be a true representative of the American people concerning human rights. Stand up for the rights of the women in China for reproductive choice. And in this case it's the choice to have a child."
Obama is expected to bring up the issue of human rights in China. But it's not known if this issue of forced abortions under the one-child policy is part of his agenda.
*Original Broadcast Date: November 13, 2009