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China Criticizes US for Withholding $34 Million from UN Population Fund - 2002-07-23

China lashes out against the U.S. decision to withhold funding for the United Nations Population Fund. Beijing says the move hurts worldwide efforts to improve the lives of those most in need.

China's Foreign Ministry defends its family planning policies, saying they have helped raise health and living standards across the country. In a statement faxed to reporters Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry condemns the decision by President Bush's administration to cancel contributions to the U.N. Population Fund. It says the move will weaken the agency's ability to provide aid to developing countries.

The Bush administration said Monday it would withhold $34 million in aid for U.N. family planning programs. A State Department spokesman said the U.N. fund helped China coerce women into having abortions and being surgically sterilized. The U.S. says its money will be diverted to other child survival and health programs instead.

The Chinese government has admitted that limited resources and spotty oversight sometimes results in illegal forced abortions. But family planners here argue that China needs more international aid, not less, to improve the lives of hundreds of millions living in poverty.

China imposed a strict policy in the late 1970s of allowing only one child per family in the cities, and generally two children in the countryside. Beijing introduced the measure to curb the country's population growth. The population stands now at 1.3 billion. The family planning policy has been steadily relaxed since the early 1990s, when the government began to punish officials who forced women to have abortions or be sterilized.

Still, local governments routinely fine families who have more than their allowed quota of children.

The U.N. Population Fund says it does not support abortion anywhere, and says it does not spend American donations in China.