Mona Charen
This was not a gaffe. This was a disgrace. In a speech at Sichuan University, Vice President Joe Biden said "Your policy has been one which I fully understand -- I'm not second-guessing -- of one child per family . . ." But, he continued, this policy is creating demographic difficulties, such that "one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable."

Following criticism, Biden's spokesperson, Kendra Barkoff, insisted that Biden, along with the entire Obama administration, finds the Chinese government's population control regime "repugnant." But she seemed confused as to what the fuss was about. "He also pointed out, in China, that the policy is, as a practical matter, unsustainable. He was arguing against the one-child policy to a Chinese audience."

Well, yes, but in the most abstract and anodyne way. Saying, "I fully understand -- I'm not second-guessing" is practically an endorsement -- and certainly much milder language than the administration has aimed at Republican budget proposals. Biden didn't condemn the immorality or brutality of a system of forced sterilization and forced abortion -- he merely noted that the demographic consequences of thus drastically limiting the population would lead to problems for China's version of Social Security. It's as if, speaking in Damascus, he had told a Syrian audience that the government's handling of protesters would lead to a decline in tourism.

Can the vice president really be ignorant of what goes on in China? Has he forgotten that even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when she was first lady, condemned the policy proclaimed at a 1995 Beijing conference? Did he miss all of the State Department country reports detailing the harsh interrogation of Chinese women, the tracking of their menstrual cycles by government officials and the steep fines for having "unauthorized" children? Is he really unaware that when women go into hiding to conceal their pregnancies, other family members are often beaten and tortured until they turn themselves in and submit to abortion and sterilization?

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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