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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration > What We Are Saying > Other Releases > 2002
July 24, 2002

Released by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
July 18, 2002

[Posted to the website on July 25, 2002]

In recent months, the State Department has renewed its examination of whether further funding of UNFPA out of funds appropriated under Pub. L. 107-115 is precluded by the Kemp-Kasten restriction in that statute. It relied on information including briefings supplied by UNFPA, Chinese law, the State Department’s annual human rights reports, and the report of a three-member independent assessment team that traveled to the PRC in May 2002 at the Secretary’s request to assess the situation and assist in the determination of whether the Kemp-Kasten amendment precluded further funding of UNFPA. The team, which was headed by former Ambassador William A. Brown, spent 14 days in China, from May 13-26, for extensive visits to five of the 32 counties supported by UNFPA. The team’s mandate was to present factual findings on UNFPA’s association or participation with population-planning activities in China.

The team found no evidence that UNFPA has "knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in the PRC." The team found that, notwithstanding some relaxation in the 32 counties in which UNFPA is involved, the population programs of the PRC "retain coercive elements in law and in practice." The team noted a system of extremely high fines and penalties imposed on families that exceed the number of children per family approved by the government. In this connection, even if UNFPA did not "knowingly" support or participate in such a program, that does not mean that the Kemp-Kasten restriction would not be triggered, since that restriction does not rest on a finding of legal intent to fund the coercive program. The restriction is triggered if the recipient "supports or participates in the management or a program of coercive abortion" (or involuntary sterilization).

The team’s finding that China’s population practices retain coercive elements in law and in practice is consistent with other information available to the Department, such as materials and briefings supplied by UNFPA, Chinese law, and the State Department’s annual human rights reports. The PRC has a longstanding and draconian program of controlling birth rates, including imposing crushing fines on parents who deviate from the number of children viewed as appropriate by the State. A "program of coercive abortion" includes penalties charged by governmental authorities under color of law that have the purpose or effect of forcing mothers to have abortions to avoid the penalties.  

The PRC Government publicly establishes and enforces detailed planned-birth policies, with "legal births" distinguished from "out-of-plan births." Fines on "out-of-plan" births are typically severe "social compensation fees." For example, the laws in one of the counties in which UNFPA operates expressly provide that "[t]he birth of a child which violates government family planning policy will result in the levying of a fee of two to three times the annual income of both respective involved parties"; that "continuation of births in violation of government family planning will result in the redoubling of fees"; and that the "amount of the penalty will be firmly set, and any difficulties in the collection of the fee or exceeding of the time limit for payment will result in an additional penalty." Reflecting this same policy, documents posted in PRC State Family Planning Commission Offices in the 32 counties in which UNFPA operates state merely that it is forbidden "to prevent legal births on the grounds of fulfilling the population plan" (emphasis added) and thus convey the clear message that it is not forbidden for government workers to seek to prevent out-of-plan births.  

The PRC government has recently confirmed these kinds of policies on a national basis. On December 29, 2001, the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People’s Congress adopted a new national "Population and Family Planning Law of the People’s Republic of China" which takes effect on September 1, 2002. This law reflects and reinforces the strict rules in the PRC that lead to coercion, including the "social compensation fees" and disciplinary measures on couples who violate the state-prescribed number of children. The law, which will become effective on September 1, 2002, includes population control quotas (Article 11) and fines ("premiums") for violating the one-child law (Article 41 ("bringing up children in society"). 

The PRC’s coercive law and practices amount to a "program of coercive abortion" and are an integral part of the comprehensive population-control program that PRC officials at all levels of government work to advance. Regardless of the size of UNFPA’s budget in China or any benefits its programs provide, UNFPA’s support of, and involvement in, China’s population-planning activities allows the Chinese government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion.

UNFPA provides millions of dollars in financial support for PRC family-planning activities in the 32 counties in which it operates. These outlays include expenditures for equipment such as computers and data-processing equipment designed to strengthen management capacity at the county level, surgical and other medical equipment and project vehicles. Although such equipment has legitimate uses, it also facilitates the imposition of social compensation fees and the performance of abortions on those women who are coerced by the social compensation fees to undergo abortions that they would otherwise not undergo. For example, recent testimony of a former planned-birth officer makes clear that something as seemingly innocuous as data-processing equipment is used to establish a database record of all women of child-bearing age in an area and to trigger the issuance of "birth-not-allowed" notices and the imposition of social compensation fees. Not only has UNFPA failed to ensure that its support does not facilitate these practices; it also has failed to deploy the resources necessary even to monitor this issue. In the context of the PRC, supplying equipment to the very agencies that employ coercive practices amounts to support or participation in the management of the program. 

UNFPA participates in other ways in the management of the relevant PRC county field offices that propagate the government’s distinction between legal births and out-of-plan births. It takes credit for posted documents that note that it is forbidden "to prevent legal births" - thus bearing partial responsibility for disseminating a message that it is not forbidden for government employees to prevent out-of-plan births. More generally, UNFPA is helping improve the administration of the local family planning offices that are administering the very social compensation fees and other penalties that are effectively coercing women to have abortions.  

Arguments can be made that UNFPA is undertaking good-faith educational and other efforts to improve the lives of the people of the PRC and assist them in family planning decisions. Even if this is the case, it does not provide a sufficient basis to furnish funding under Kemp-Kasten. Kemp-Kasten instead precludes further funding of that organization since it is supporting or participating in the management of a "program of coercive abortion." 

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