By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
After several days of harsh criticism about a comment he made during his China visit about not “second-guessing” that country’s brutal one-child policy, the office of Vice President Joe Biden has issued a “clarification” with the hopes of stemming the mounting backlash.
“The Obama administration strongly opposes all aspects of China’s coercive birth-limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization. The vice president believes such practices are repugnant,” said Biden spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff in a statement issued today.
“He also pointed out, in China, that the policy is, as a practical matter, unsustainable. He was arguing against the one-child policy to a Chinese audience.”
Biden made the comment during a question-and-answer session with students at Sichuan University in Chengdu. He was talking about the impact of the retiring baby-boomer generation and lower fertility rates on the U.S. retirement system.
“You share a similar concern here in China. You have no safety net. Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family,” Biden said. “The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable.”
The Washington Times is reporting that the Vice President was hammered almost immediately by pro-life politicians such as House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who said he was “deeply troubled” by the remarks.
Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Mr. Biden’s comment “demonstrates great moral indifference on the part of the Obama administration.”
Another candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said in a statement that Mr. Biden’s words “should shock the conscience of every American.”
“Instead of condoning the policy, Vice President Biden should have condemned it in the strongest possible terms. There can be no defense of a government that engages in compulsory sterilization and forced abortions in the name of population control,” Romney said.
Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican and chairman of the Executive-Congressional Commission on China, called Biden’s comments “unconscionable,” saying that they fit a pattern of administration kowtowing to China.
“Obama didn’t say a word about any of the human rights crimes of Chinese President Hu Jintao when he visited Washington earlier this year; instead he hosted a state dinner for him,” Smith said.
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