US POLICY toward China during the Bush years was marked by appeasement and a thirst for profit.
When Chinese ruler Deng Xiaoping mobilized 150,000 troops and ordered the pro-democracy rallies of 1989 to stop, President Bush voiced no objection. When mobilization became murder and a thousand civilians died at Tiananmen Square, Bush did little more than issue a tepid statement of disapproval.
Business as usual, that was the ticket. Within weeks of the Tiananmen bloodbath, Bush dispatched two top aides, Lawrence Eagleburger and Brent Scowcroft, to meet secretly with Deng and keep relations amicable. He vetoed a bill to protect Chinese students in the United States, and kept extending China's most-favored-nation status. On one occasion, Bush's ambassador to China, James Lilley, even denounced Chinese demonstrators in Seattle who were protesting China's human-rights crimes. "You're cowards," Lilley shouted at a Tibetan woman. "Go back to China and serve China!"
Only this can be said in defense of the Bush line on China: It stopped short of raw, naked cruelty. Individual Chinese lucky enough to escape the brutal repression that makes the People's Republic the largest prison camp in human history were granted asylum if they reached US shores. In particular, an order issued by Bush in January 1990 offered sanctuary to any refugee from China's ghastly one-family/one-child policy.
No longer. Escapees from Chinese communism who reach America without proper papers are now arrested, jailed, and deported. The policy of sheltering those fleeing China's population-control program was reversed by President Clinton. Notwithstanding the president's famous capacity to "feel the pain" of others, the tears and anguish of these would-be immigrants leave Clinton and his administration unmoved.
Their iciness is consistent. Haitians who flung themselves into the sea to escape the death squads of the Cedras junta were halted by the Coast Guard and forced back to Haiti. Clinton now says the same will be done to Cubans bolting Castro's Carribean nightmare.
But of the hells on this earth that can drive human beings to desperation, nothing quite compares with China's one-child policy.
Mandated since the 1970s as the solution to China's "overpopulation" (a myth, by the way: China's population density is half of Britain's; its problem is not people but poverty brought on by bad government), the one-child policy abolishes reproductive freedom. Couples are made to sign a "one-child" agreement, and are forbidden to have that child until they are issued a government quota. All women of childbearing age are compelled to practice contraception. Those with one child must have IUDs inserted; those who get pregnant a second time without authorization are sterilized. Couples who manage to evade the one-child agreement are fined severely, publicly humiliated, and demoted. Their homes may be demolished.
But most couples don't succeed in having more than one child. The menstrual cycles of fertile women are tracked. Their means of contraception and the date of their next expected period are publicly posted. Those who become pregnant without a permit are forced to undergo "remedial measures" -- abortion. Late-term abortions are not uncommon, since some pregnant women try to hide; they have to be tracked down by the state and hauled to an abortion clinic. Often their pregnancies are far along.
In his searing book A Mother's Ordeal , China scholar Steven Mosher describes the techniques used to perform late-term abortions on healthy babies. One method is to insert a rubber bulb into the uterus, then fill it with water until the pressure causes contractions to begin and the baby to be expelled. Another is to inject a drug into the amniotic fluid. "When the baby swallowed the fluid, as late-term babies do, it poisoned itself. This 'poison shot' induced premature labor, causing the fetus to be stillborn."
But these methods occasionally result in babies being born alive, and it can take several hours for them to die. To avoid "such embarrassing lapses," some doctors, such as Dr. Yin of the Beijing No. 4 Hospital, employ a different method.
"First he would induce premature labor. Then, after the cervix had dilated and the crown of the baby's head was exposed, he would inject pure formaldehyde into the fetal brain through the fontanel, or soft spot. The baby would be born dead. On occasions when the cervix refused to dilate fully, he would reach in with forceps and crush the baby's skull. Then he would remove the broken body piecemeal."
Few Chinese can escape this horror-show. It is the tiny number who do -- like the 271 passengers arrested when the steamer Golden Venture broke up off the New York coast in 1993 -- that the Clinton administration is hellbent on sending back.
Thirteen women from the Golden Venture, having just lost a court appeal, face imminent deportation. They will be sterilized, fined, and probably jailed on their return. But the White House says there will be no retreat on "humanitarian or other" grounds.
Raw, naked cruelty. Shame on America. Shame on us. If we allow this, shame on us.
(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston Globe.)