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Critics urge pressure as China one-child policy hits 30

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Sept 24, 2010
Critics of China's one-child-only law appealed for greater global pressure as the policy turns 30 on Saturday, saying that millions of women have suffered indignities in the most intimate part of their lives.

Against a backdrop of the US Capitol, lawmakers and activists were joined Friday by a Chinese woman, Ke Cheng Ping, who said she was forced to have an abortion under the policy that forbids most urban women from more than one child.

She said tearfully that police forced her to undergo the abortion without anesthesia and without the presence of her family.

"Unless this is marked by at least some of us, tomorrow (Saturday) will be just another day," said Representative Christopher Smith, a Republican of New Jersey and staunch opponent of abortion.

"It's 30 years of the worst violation of human rights ever," Smith said. "I work on all human rights issues and I don't know of any policy that has hurt so many women and so many children and families than the one-child policy."

China implemented the policy to curb what it saw as unsustainable population growth. Critics point to a new set of demographic problems, including millions of young men unable to find brides after families, who traditionally favor boys, aborted girls.

Smith called for President Barack Obama -- whose meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in New York on Thursday focused mostly on economic issues -- to raise the one-child policy.

"I have not seen one word about forced abortion in China come out of the president's mouth. That is numbing in its indifference," Smith said.

China next year is introducing a pilot plan in five provinces to ease the one-child policy by allowing more exemptions, with a view potentially to extend the relaxed rules across China.

The change was prompted largely by economic worries as China faces the prospect of a shrinking labor pool supporting a mass of retirees.

earlier related report
China panda keeper finalists begin training
Beijing (AFP) Sept 24, 2010 - Twelve finalists in a worldwide contest to be a panda keeper in China for one month have begun their training, learning to feed and study the endangered animals, organisers said on Friday.

Hailing from Sweden, South Africa, Japan and other countries, the finalists arrived at the Chengdu Panda Base in southwestern China's Sichuan province on Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the base told AFP.

They are the lucky few remaining from a pool of more than 60,000 hopefuls who had applied for the rare chance to work as a panda keeper for one month.

They will be trained on how to feed the pandas, interact with cubs, and monitor their growth, the spokeswoman said.

The six winners of the competition, organised by the base and conservation group WWF, will be chosen on September 29 based on how well they look after the pandas, understand conservation, and how good their communication skills are.

They will then spend a month working as panda keepers in Chengdu, blogging about their experiences ( to help raise awareness of the endangered animal's plight.

"The six winners will also be hosted by local families," the spokeswoman, who refused to be named, said.

There are just 1,600 pandas left in the wild and nearly 300 others are in captive-bred programmes worldwide, mainly in China, according to official reports.

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Study: More credit due to Neanderthals
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