03 April 2013

Three hundred thirty-six million gone

Read here (EDIT: or here if you hit the paywall).

One hundred ninety-six million sterilisations, and three hundred thirty-six million terminated pregnancies, a significant proportion of which we can be sure were forced on the women carrying them. And that is just what has been documented officially by the state which carried them out. For scale, the latter figure is over seven times the highest estimates, by which I mean the hyperventilations of the likes of Frank Dikötter, of the total excess deaths (a figure which includes both born and unborn, by the way) attributed to the Great Leap Forward famine. This is utterly unconscionable.

Let us be clear. The one-child policy implemented by Deng Xiaoping, which is responsible for most of these abortions and sterilisations, is linked intrinsically to the other neoliberal ‘reforms’ he ushered in. These reforms were liable not to be popular in the long run with the working classes; what better way to control the disgruntled at cost, therefore, than by crushing them demographically over the course of a generation? (Naturally, the people who benefitted most from reform-and-opening can merely pay off the requisite agencies for permission to have more than one child - this sort of population control is always aimed first, if not solely, at the people on the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.)

The big question which bears asking, then, is: are Deng Xiaoping and his cronies behind the One Child Policy likely to be held historically accountable for this mass slaughter of the unborn and mutilation of women the way Mao Zedong is being for the GLF?


  1. Greta post, Matthew. A bit off topic but I wanted to ask you where you see the Chinese middle class politically. Are they likely to support continued CPC rule in its current state out of a fear of the masses, or are they perhaps likely to support something like classical liberalism with a form of restricted suffrage/limited democracy? What are the prospects of cross-class alliances for social democracy and universal suffrage? Sorry to bombard you like this, I just don’t know very much about Chinese politics.

  2. Hi John! Thanks for the comment, and for posting the link on your own blog!

    I'm sorry, though, that I don't really have a good answer for you with regard to the Chinese middle class, since that's still a very tough thing to define, and you have a lot of different motivations and political currents warring with each other essentially over them. At present, I think the Chinese middle class is essentially concerned with the same sorts of things that the middle class in other countries concerns itself with: creating a secure and stable economic situation so that their kids (or rather, kid - depending on how expansive your definition of middle-class is that they can afford to pay the fee for having a second child) can go to good schools, &c.

    Insofar as the CCP continues to deliver economic growth, I think they'll continue to have the support of the middle class. Likewise, I take a Zizekian line on the so-called 'dissidents' which have the direct support of the US and the Anglo-American media: they love the CCP's neoliberal economic policies, but they make a big stink in public over facile political points which, like the SCMP, they are ever-eager to cover over once they've gotten the attention they wanted. I think that the CCP's ability to deliver that growth under their neoliberalising model is wildly overstated in some circles, but neither do I lend all that much credence to the doomsayers who predict a catastrophic end to the Chinese Wirtschaftswunder within the next few years.

    We'll have to see how it plays out. My optimistic appraisal of a Confucian-neoleftist political rapport against both poles of the modern CCP and Western liberalism is really just that. Both movements are academic; and the points of contact (like that between Kang Xiaoguang and Wang Shaoguang) are also. But I'm hopeful that, as happened with the hybrid ideas of Wang Anshi, some hotshot might take up where Bo Xilai left off.

    Hope this is useful!