Biden Backs Off of 'Not Second-Guessing One-Child' Comment Made in China, No Thanks to Establishment Press

Earlier this evening, Vice President Joe Biden, through a spokesperson, backed away from his Sunday comment at a Chinese university about that nation's "one-child" policy, wherein the state allows couples, with relatively rare exceptions, to have only one child. This of course has led to a horrible abortion death toll. A Laura Ingraham email I received this evening, corroborated by a China's population minister cited by CNN in 2008, carries an estimate of 400 million deaths (CNN said it "prevented 400 million children from being born"). It has also led to what is probably an historically unprecedented male-female gender imbalance in the neighborhood of 43-60 million.

Biden's comment (transcript; video) was:

You have no safety net. Your policy has been one which I fully understand -- I’m not second-guessing -- of one child per family. The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable.

Biden's backoff in the wake of intense Republican, conservative, prolife and Chinese dissident criticism is in an AFP report carried at ChannelNewsAsia.com, is far from satisfactory, and contains (in bold) what can only be considered a spectacular fib in the circumstances. To its credit, AFP also found a prominent Chinese activist for a mainland perspective on the impact of Biden's Sunday remark:

Under fire, Biden blasts 'repugnant' China policies

Under fire from angry Republicans, US Vice President Joe Biden's office said Tuesday that he firmly opposes "repugnant" Chinese population control practices like "forced abortion and sterilization."

"The Obama administration strongly opposes all aspects of China's coercive birth limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization," Biden spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff told AFP by email.

"The vice president believes such practices are repugnant," she said after Republican White House candidates blasted Biden for recent comments he made about Beijing's "one-child" population control policy during a visit to China.

Biden told an audience at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, Sunday that "your policy has been one which I fully understand -- I'm not second-guessing -- of one child per family."

... Barkoff pointed out that Biden, who was discussing the ratio of active workers to retirees, had also called the policy "unsustainable" and said "he was arguing against the One Child Policy to a Chinese audience."

... The vice president's statement also drew fire from a leader of the repressed Tiananmen Square protests, Chai Ling, who has become a born-again Christian and activist against the "one-child" policy.

"At best, it is a statement of ambiguity that gives permission to China to continue its brutal and coercive birth planning policy," said a statement from her advocacy group, All Girls Allowed.

"At worst, it is an endorsement of the exorbitant fines, severe beatings, and forced abortions and sterilizations that are performed on thousands of Chinese families every day -- an ongoing Tiananmen massacre every hour," she said.

While it's nice that AFP is reporting Biden's (pathetic) attempt to backtrack, it's likely that what he said would never have been news in the pre-New Media World:

  • The Associated Press's original coverage of Biden's university appearance (saved here at host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) made no reference to his "one-child" comment. As of 10:30 this evening, based on the results of its main site on "Biden China" (not in quotes) the AP still has nothing on what Biden said, or even the groundswell of reaction to it.
  • A New York Times search on "Biden China" (again not in quotes), as well as a reading of the paper's reports (here, here, and here) on Biden's trip, surfaced nothing relating to his original one-child remarks. The first identified item is from Reuters, indicating that it is very likely that it also ignored Biden's comment in its other reporting.
  • One of the Times's items just noted has an inadvertently humorous title: "China and U.S. Choose Safe Site for Biden Visit." Guys, there is no safe place to let Joe Biden speak.

As I see it, thirty years ago, and probably even twenty, a remark similar to Biden's would have gone virtually unnoticed. Folks like Bill Buckley, Cal Thomas, and James Kilpatrick might have detected it and written a column or two about and might have even brought it up on CNN, but no one at the White House would have felt it necessary for the Vice President attempt to backtrack.

At least on a remark as outrageous as Biden's latest, that can't happen any more, even though it's clear that the AP, New York Times, and others tried to keep it bottled up. Oh, how they must despise the entire situation. Too bad, so sad.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.