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Chen, the Conscience of China

by | May 10, 2012

Steven W. Mosher

By Steven W. Mosher

Editor’s note. This appeared Tuesday. Mr. Mosher will be
speaking at the National Right to Life Convention. For details go


I was going to devote this page to my recent trip to New
Zealand, where I gave seven talks to a total of over 3,000
people. But then a blind Chinese human rights activist named
Chen Guangcheng escaped from house arrest, and my phone
began to ring off the hook.

The media wanted to know what I thought of this case, so
similar to my own. You see, Chen originally got in trouble in
the same manner that I did: by reporting on forced abortions
and forced sterilizations being carried out by Communist Party
officials in the village he was living in.

Of course, our experiences were widely separated in space and
time. I was living in the far south of China in 1980 when the
one-child policy was first imposed upon the peasants of the
Pearl River Delta. Chen was living in the far northern province of
Shandung in 2005 when that same policy, some 25 years later,
resulted in the arrest and abortion of thousands of women in his
county alone.

We were both arrested for our trouble, but here the similarities
end. I was held for three days and then released, largely due to
my get-out-jail-free card—also known as a U.S. Passport.

Chen, on the other hand, was a subject of the People’s Republic
of China. He was arrested, brought before a kangaroo court,
and sentenced to four years in prison for “disturbing the public
order.” Thereafter he was put under “house arrest,” without
even the pretense of a trial. Up to a hundred security personnel

patrolled the streets of his village to make sure he was kept
sequestered and silent.

A self-taught country lawyer selflessly trying to help his fellow
citizens would be a sympathetic figure to many Chinese. Add to
this the fact that he is blind, is the father of two small children,
and has been jailed by corrupt officials on trumped up charges.

But what makes him an iconic figure to his countryman is his
exposé of the one-child policy.

Bear in mind that almost every Chinese family has been
impacted in some way by the loss of a loved one because of
the one-child per family policy. Virtually everyone in China is
missing a son or a daughter, or a brother or a sister because
some Communist Party hack found out that their wife or mother
was pregnant with an “illegal” second or third child, arrested
them for the “crime” of being pregnant, and took them in
against their will for an abortion.

Chen documented 7,000 such cases, taking down the names
and addresses of those women who were victimized, as well as
the particulars of the officials who committed these crimes.

Now you can see why the Chinese Communist Party is so eager
to silence Chen. Not only has he exposed their crimes against
the Chinese people, he has at least the potential to generate
massive protests against the brutal one-child policy.

No wonder he is being called China’s Sakharov. Like Sakharov,
he has courageously spoken truth to power, and has become
the conscience of the Chinese people where forced abortions
and forced sterilizations are concerned. Like Sakharov, he
deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

Update: As of today, May 8, Chen has said by phone that he
is hopeful he and his family will be allowed to travel to the
U.S. And Vice President Biden has expressed the same hope,
stating, “We expect the Chinese to stick to that commitment.”

But Chen fears that his remaining relatives in China will suffer

Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research

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