I was happy to hear Dr. Pat Robertson’s recent public statements on China’s brutal population control policy. I am not happy about the position taken by the chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network and host of the “700 Club,” but I am happy that it is out in the open.
For years, Robertson and a few other big name religious leaders have worked quietly behind the scenes in Washington, D.C., to promote Most Favored Nation status, MFN, for China (recently renamed Normal Trading Status, NTS). This has made it easier for members of the United States Congress to look the other way at China’s egregious human rights abuse and reward the large multinational corporations that are willing to shell out huge amounts of campaign cash in order to keep open their avenue to the world’s cheapest labor.
The dirty little secret is that much of the labor they exploit is provided by Christians and other people of faith, who are arrested, kept in inhumane conditions and used as slaves, simply because they bow the knee.
Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in 12 different forced labor camps in China, will tell you that these poor people are praying that we here in the world’s biggest market will refuse the goods that are the products of their blood, sweat and tears.
However, when a man like Pat Robertson tells our congressmen and senators that a vote for NTS is a good thing, it makes it easier for them to put their consciences on the shelf. The annual vote on China’s trading status has been a stumbling block for Christians in the House and the Senate. There was so much at stake. It was one of the most reliable sources of big campaign cash. It wasn’t exactly a quid pro quo; it’s just that it is understood that those who voted “no” on this issue need not apply.
Last year, as we were still reeling from the discovery that China had stolen our most sensitive military technology, these multi-national corporations pulled off their biggest coup. They demanded and received a successful vote to make China’s trading status permanent, thereby making the cost of using slave labor cheaper still.
However, the detention of the crew of our crippled EP-3 surveillance plane and the refusal of the Chinese government to turn over the aircraft is forcing Congress to take another look at the situation and it is shining some unwelcome light on the subject.
Just as the people back home began turning up the heat on some of those congressmen and senators who traditionally look the other way at China’s bad behavior when it comes time for a trade vote, Robertson decided to speak out.
On April 16, he told Wolf Blitzer of CNN, “Well, you know I don’t agree with it [Red China’s policy of forced abortion] but at the same time, they’ve got 1.2 billion people, and they don’t know what to do. If every family over there were allowed to have three or four children, the population would be completely unsustainable. So I think that right now they’re doing what they have to do. I don’t agree with the forced abortion, but I don’t think the United States needs to interfere with what they’re doing internally in this regard.”
Robertson received so much negative criticism that he quickly issued a clarification trying to explain himself. He stated that he should have prefaced his remarks by saying that he was “unalterably opposed to the policy, which would result in forced abortions or sex selection,” and he stressed his pro-life teaching over the past 40 years. However Dr. Robertson compounded the situation by saying, “I merely expressed what to me seemed obvious … that the Chinese people with a population of 1.2 billion will face a tragic dilemma of massive proportions if they permit their population to explode upwards of 2 billion people.”
On April 18, he went on Fox News Channel’s “The Edge” where he reiterated some of his earlier statements to Paula Zahn. He talked abut how many trips he had made to China and then made this statement: “The Chinese government is saying one child a family, which seems excessive, perhaps, but that’s their rule and so far it’s working for them. But they have a very serious problem, and you cannot imagine how many people will be out of work. You can’t imagine the mass starvation, the desperate poverty that will result if they allow the population explosion uncontrolled.”
There are some serious problems with these contradictory rationalizations. Population density has nothing to do with poverty. Some of the most densely populated areas of the world also are the most affluent.
China has a huge population. It also has a huge landmass. However, we live in a world where we are able to produce more food on less acreage than ever before. Also, we are able to produce food in areas that previously were thought to be unsuitable. Hydroponic farming makes it possible to grow food indoors year round, or in areas that are too cold to raise crops outdoors.
Here in the United States, one of our biggest problems is too many farmers. For years, we have paid some of them not to grow crops in order to keep the price of food up.
Worldwide, population continues to increase despite the fact that, in most countries, fertility rates are dropping. This is because people are in better health and are living longer.
In poorer countries, women have more children, partly for self-preservation. Survival rates are low and parents without resources must depend on their children in their old age.
Penny Pullen of the Life Advocacy Alliance had this to say about Robertson’s statements: “Population growth is not a threat; indeed, it is a requirement for a robust economy. The threat (in China) is not the people; it is the very government that strangles the economy and oppresses the people in their daily lives.”
China’s manufacturing base is growing, and those working for or who have connections to the totalitarian government do quite well. Economic conditions have improved for the compliant portion of its population but at what cost? Freedom is an illusion.
As we have poured more of our money into China, human rights abuse has not decreased. It has increased. Women with one child who get pregnant are hunted like animals. They forcibly are aborted and, if they are caught when they give birth, their infants often are killed.
Those who are caught worshiping God outside of a highly controlled state-run church are arrested and their houses bulldozed. Inside China’s laogai they are tortured and treated like animals, forced to work long arduous hours to produce the plush toys, ceramics, and Christmas ornaments that we buy. If they fail to meet their quotas, they are starved and beaten.
China’s citizens have no rights. They can be arrested for any reason. Prisoners can be executed at any time if one of their organs is needed for a rich buyer. As I understand it, in such cases prisoners’ relatives actually receive bills for the bullets used in the executions of their loved ones.
When Pat Robertson says, China’s one child policy is “their rule” and “so far it’s working for them,” to whom is he referring?
Why would Pat Robertson make excuses for China’s brutal government?
On April 20, Washington Times writer George Archibald reported that Dr. Robertson has had a multimillion-dollar business partnership with the Chinese government for television programming since 1995. CBN’s joint venture investment partners in China reports Archibald, “include the Lippo Group of Indonesia and Malaysian real estate interest.”
The week following Pat Robertson’s pronouncements, the president he helped elect made it clear to the American people that no matter what China is doing to its citizens, no matter what China is doing to some of our citizens who have been detained, he will look the other way to keep the mostly one-way trading door open to the PRC.
Robertson, the president and most members of Congress would have you believe that it’s all or nothing when it comes to doing business with the Chinese. Either we trade with them or we don’t. That simply is not so. If we deny China its trading status, the tariff on China’s goods would rise dramatically, making it unprofitable for businesses in our country to use Chinese labor. These businesses then would go to other poor countries where they would pay slightly more to have their products manufactured.
What we tend to forget is that Congress made the trade law and Congress can change it. Instead of a choice between an excessively high or a ridiculously low tariff, why not a sliding scale? If a country does a bad thing, its tariff goes up a notch or two. If a country improves, its tariff goes down a notch or two.
The congressmen who are comfortable raking in the big bucks from these international businesses like it just as it is because they simply don’t want to rock the boat. We must rock it for them.
When a religious leader tries to tell you that this kind of trading relationship with China is a good thing, don’t forget to check out the bottom line. Ask yourself, “Could his views be influenced by his business interests?”
Find out if his ministry is getting any donations from the same interests that are donating heavily to those congressmen and senators who have been voting to reward China for its bad behavior?
Find out if he is raising money for crusades or the delivery of Bibles to China through the “state” churches, thereby giving cover to the red Chinese government?
Throughout the years, Dr. Robertson has done many worthwhile things that truly are commendable. He and the other religious leaders who have been promoting trade with China may believe that it is worth the costs and that what they are doing in China is vital to the spread of the Gospel behind the Bamboo Curtain. But ask yourself, “Do the thousands of Chinese people who are willing to go to prison or die for what they believe, really need us to tell them about faith?”
What these Chinese Christians need is for more Americans to just say “no” to Chinese products. They need more pastors to educate their flocks about the horrors of the Chinese laogai. They need more support for the work of the underground churches.
The Bible says, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” The love of money also can be the seed for a dangerous compromise.