Patrick Craine


Chinese officials ‘earn cash bonuses for every abortion they enforce’: expert

Patrick Craine

NOTTINGHAM, UK, August 1, 2012 ( – Despite renewed calls for an end to China’s brutal one-child policy, a British expert says it is not going anywhere because of the government’s highly-structured system of financial and personal incentives for family planning officials.

“The people who track down pregnant women to carry out unwanted terminations do it not because they are evil or unfeeling. They do it because of powerful incentives to meet family-planning targets,” Dr. Jackie Sheehan, associate professor in the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham, explains in a column for the South China Morning Post.

She says officials face far greater repercussions for missing targets than for igniting international scandal through forced abortions and sterilizations. “Officials lose points for every out-of-quota birth in their area and earn cash bonuses for every abortion and sterilisation they enforce,” she writes.

“In a township in Anhui province, for each birth out of quota and each mandated sterilisation not carried out, five points were deducted from an official’s score,” she continues. “Teams of village officials competed for a 1,000-yuan bonus for the top-scoring team, while those from the last-placed village were named and shamed.”

The policy, enacted in the 1970s to stem China’s growing population, has been a big item in the news recently in the wake of forced abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng’s dramatic escape from house arrest in April and subsequent immigration to safety in the United States.

The scandal was exacerbated in June when media across the globe reported on a late-term forced abortion on Feng Jianmei, along with a gruesome photograph of her lying beside her aborted seven-month-old child.

Sheehan says that while the head of the family planning bureau in Feng’s area has reportedly been removed, “it would be surprising if he were not, inside a year, either back in the job or in another one of equal or greater rank.”

Anthony Ozimic, communications manager for the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said, “Dr Sheehan’s analysis gives the lie to the claim by Western governments and the worldwide abortion lobby that the one-child policy is not intrinsically abusive and is capable of reform.”

Dr. Jackie Sheehan’s full article is available here.

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