Thousands Sterilized In China Population Crackdown
April 19, 2010 | by Bill Lehane

Thousands of people in one county of southern China have been sterilized in just days as part of a crackdown on violations of the country’s controversial one-child policy.

A 20-day campaign was begun on 7 April to sterilize 9,559 adults in Puning county, which with a population of 2.24 million is the most populous area of Guangdong Province. On 12 April local officials said they had already achieved about half their goal.

Doctors have been working 20 hour days to complete the massive round of surgeries. Local officials are so determined to reach their target they have been detaining relatives of those who resist the operation, potentially in violation of Chinese law.

Some 1,300 people are being held in cramped conditions around the county and forced to listen to lectures about the one-child policy while their relatives refuse to submit to the surgery.

The brother of 38-year-old Zhang Lizhao, who is the father of two young sons, was detained while Zhang was out of town buying supplies for his wholesale fruit business. Zhang rushed home to get sterilized – after his wife was already forced to have the same operation – so that his brother would be released.

“This morning my wife called me and said they were forcing her to be sterilised today,” Zhang said. “She pleaded with the clinic to wait because she has her period. But they would not wait a single day. I called and begged them but they said no. So I have rushed back. I am satisfied because I have two sons.”

Another man being held is the 68-year-old father of Huang Ruifeng, whose son has three daughters. Huang is refusing to submit to the surgery because he wants his wife to give birth to a son. He also said that he was too busy to attend hospital and that he did not have confidence in local medical techniques.

About 100 people were being held in one family planning center that was just 2,150 square feet in size. Detainees huddled together on the mats provided, which did not leave enough space for everyone to lie down at the same time.

“It’s not uncommon for family planning authorities to adopt some tough tactics,” said an official at the Puning Population and Family Planning Bureau, who declined to be identified.

The detentions are the latest tactic in the county’s bid to reduce violations of the rules as part of a bid to secure Puning second-tier county status. Couples with illegal children or their relatives who apply for permits to build a house are rejected. Illegal children are also refused residency registration, a penalty that denies them access to healthcare and education.

The county is under criticism from provincial authorities to slow a population growth that is reflecting badly on the entire province. One reason for Puning’s large population is that families in the mainly rural region often have up to three or four children.

However one official said that an investigation would be launched to establish whether authorities in Puning had exceeded their remit. A state-level regulation stipulates that couples who violate the one-child policy must not be punished without proper authorization and family members may not be penalized to put pressure on couples.

Rules in Puning, as throughout rural China, allow farmers to have a second child if the first is a daughter. After that couples must stop. The population control policy, referred to by the Chinese Government as the family planning policy, has been in force since 1978.

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Bill Lehane
Bill Lehane, 28, is a journalist and freelance writer from Dublin, Ireland. He recently returned from six months working as a teacher in east China, which gave him a chance to experience many of the wide, weird and wacky sights that make up daily life in the Middle Kingdom. However, he did not succeed in teaching the local teenagers anything whatsoever: they still love Michael Jackson, KFC and themselves. More at
Bill Lehane

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  • Hmm.. this will work, China has the largest populated country ever.

    florida photographer

  • it should be implemented world wide

    • no WAY!
      ITS WRONG!
      if people want babies then its wrong to stop them.
      god put us on this world to have babies!

  • actually no i would be looking out for the bettering of our planet. our planet is over run by people now. imagine when we hit 10 billion people. we dont have enough food now. the people are creating a heat that is raising the temperature of the planet. disease cannot be controlled.

    people need to think about the future not the present. people are dying now because of over population from starvation and disease.

    it is also causing our genes to become damaged. if we do not reproduce with multiple people and stay in a marriage with no more than 2 children per couple we may have a chance.

    our race is dying ou because people do NOT want to look at the future they just care about the present.

    • Very well said! It's sad but I do agree. It is much better for the planet. Sad, but true.

    • " the people are creating a heat that is raising the temperature of the planet" ???
      Did you even go to school?? Or did your school teacher teach you basic science???

    • Guy.
      We have More than enough food now. It is just not distributed properly. Are you from America? Look at how much food we waste in restaurants every single millisecond of every single day. The amount of food being produced on the planet right now could feed the world and Then some. Your idea that people are producing heat that's raising the temperature of the planet….. is the least factual piece of information I have heard in such a long time. I'm sorry but you need to obtain some real knowledge about how the planet works, the Earth is a very complicated system which balances itself out. It compensates for changes and adapts, our atmosphere takes care of regulating temperature. The increase in temperature we're experiencing right now may be from some human activity, such as the greenhouse gases we've emitted, but it's also due to the sun being at the height of a 12 year cycle where it is now most active and is sending out solar flares like crazy. I can feel the increased strength of the sun and I see pictures of it every day.
      Disease can be controlled. We have the technology and knowledge to feed and keep the population of the world healthy. Don't doubt it – Doubt what you hear from the news and anyone who's trying to tell you what's going on, because it is not the truth. The way our world is set up is NOT based on our well-being, it is dictated by what makes the most money and by political relations. Save yourself and seek out the truth, not just what's being told to you <3<3

  • Condoms would solve this problem…use em people

  • The reason this is wrong is that these people don't have a choice in the matter. They are forced to live in China (yes, FORCED, I'd like to see YOU get out of China if the government didn't want you to) and then forced to live by a set of bogus rules that no other country has to deal with. Then, on top of that, the government determines you are required to have invasive surgery that removes one of the most basic needs of humanity, the need to procreate, forcefully and without your permission. Especially when women are concerned, this is not a small procedure, it is a surgical ordeal.

    So, "jojo", having a population restriction is not something I feel is an issue. It is a relatively responsible thing to do on the part of an overcrowded populace. The issue people have is with the methods, which are invasive and horrible. And that isn't even taking into consideration the gender bias towards male children and the general state of China as a whole, which is a depressing communist mess. That requires a whole different wall of text, so for now I will refrain.

    • yes but you are missing one thing. these people were not responsible enough to take the matters into their own hands.

      they had more children than are allowed.

      it is not so invasive for women anymore. maybe in the area of china they are in but its simple now.

      just imagine china without all those bogus rules. do you think it would be as nice as it is now(i know its not nice now but better with the bogus LAWS than without)?

      and yes it could be alot worse. they could be forcing female circumcisions and males to have their genitals completely removed. they could also euthanize the children and parents for breaking the law.

  • Forced surgery is just wrong. However, I agree completely that something needs to be done immediately about over population. It's killing the planet and lowering the quality of life for everyone.

    • As George Carlin said: the planet is fine! The PEOPLE are f*cked. The planet will shrug us off like a bad cold.

      • I love and miss George. PS- It's easy for us to walk into a clinic at no charge (well no charge in Canada anyway) and have access to affordable birth control. We don't have to look after our aging parents, we have professional facilities for that. Universal health care is necessary for this very real problem. Forced sterilization is a gross human rights violation, and doesn't really help to educated anybody about family planning.

  • I think if it was a chemical procedure, it wouldn't be as bad as invasive surgery if it would help curb global population numbers. That said, it is difficult to justify taking away someone's right to procreate without first resorting to something more sensible like distributing condoms or giving law violators some jail time. I understand that rural peasants like to be traditional and have their large families and little boys to carry on the family name, but tradition needs to make room for pragmatism.

    • to start chemical would be worse for you in the long run. it would be the use of hormones which are not reliable. then their is the condom issue. that is a choice which they already have/had. they chose not to use them!

      time in jail for people who already work 12+ hours a day and cannot afford to put food on their own plate let alone their family.

      people think china is a big bad country. they only resort to these things you see in the media because they are over populated.

      it is people who do not think about the consequences that are the problems.

      heres another good question.

      should people have the right to commit suicide?
      the USA is looking for an excuse to go to a police state.

      ever hear of eugenics? which would be worse having an operation or living in a world that is based on eugenics?

      that is the world/country we are moving into unless something is done.

      the time it took me to type this out their were 300+ babies born in the usa. only 120ish in china.

      you tell me which number is better. unless you are looking to amass an army in say 16 years.

      • Do you Really not realize that forced sterilization IS EUGENICS?
        LEARN SOMETHING REAL. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. I'm sorry. I love everyone, I love you, but for the sake of humanity, do not believe that your opinion is accurate or well-educated until it is.

  • then they use sheepskin or other skins or roots.

  • whats going to happen in a few years when china has millions and millions of extra, horny males?

  • Oh, look. I think this is the moment you can probably identify in 20 years as when the downfall really started.
    Complicated questions of ethics and values dissonance…When you start pulling legitimately cartoonish evil empire shit, its just not going to get any better.

  • I'm in favor of sterilizing JOJO at the neck.

  • actually i have had my one child. yet i got sterilized. willingly as i do not want to make this planet worse than it is.

  • Sorry, "educate."

  • China now has 30 million males who will never have a wife at all. No human has the right or the wisdom to
    'manage' a population's reproductive rights. The result is massive abortions of girls, this huge population
    of males who will never have a normal life, probable rise of prostitution, complete lack of respect for human
    life. The problem in China is not the number of people, it is management of those people by a handful of
    old men and their enforcement jackboots, of every facet of Chinese life. Before the Communist revolution,
    China as one of the most paradisical places on earth. Read Pearl Buck's books. Communists are pathetic.

    • Rhian, you are terribly misinformed. First of all, Pearl Buck left China in 1933, 16 years before the communists came to power, so you got that completely wrong. Second, although 30 million is a huge number (most sources put it a bit lower), there is something you need to consider. Each year, about 9 million girls are born in China, and the legal age of marriage is 2 years older for men than women (22 and 20). This effectively reduces the gap to about 12 million. If the gap becomes too great, China has plans to reduce the age for women by 1 year and increase it for men by 1 year. That would not only complete erase the gender gap, it would create a surplus of 6 million women per year. In almost all Asian cultures, women typically marry men that are several years older than themselves, and only a 4 year gap in marriage age (which they already have) completely wipes out the gender gap.

  • nuke em all

  • Anyone who supports or agrees with China's actions, because it's good for the planet, should do the planet a favor; rid the planet of yourselves.

  • The Chinese media is really bashing the way local officials in Puning are handling this. The tone is basically that officials were incompetent, which led to them to be unable to meet the goals. Now they are getting hammered for the forced sterilizations and especially the detention of relatives. I wouldn't want to be the official that came up with this plan, because China's central government is probably going to come down pretty hard. Whenever you see the government-controlled news agencies being highly critical of policies created by local officials, someone is bound to get thumped. Ironically, this comes at a time when it looks like the Chinese government is getting ready to ease its one child policy.

  • oh China -_-

  • sigh, such a social dilemma. that's why it has come to such strong measures. naturally overpopulation is a big issue. but nobody wants to be the one to give to the greater good. so equilibrium is not to do anything, thus forcing this action

  • the world has a way of balancing its self. jojo needs to understand this. someday a plague will lessen the number of people. till then its an indivuduals choice how large a family they want. i came from a family of four and im so glad. having one child is your choice, but i always had my sister, brothers and cousins. a large tight knit family that has filled my days with immense joy.
    As for the rural chinese, they need large families to help out in the farms and be productive members of the community. denying them that is inhumane. A persons body is their own! their choice to have a SURGICAL procedure was complete ignored. if you agree with that you have serious issues dude.

  • Surely there are millions of Chinese willing and even glad to volunteer for sterilization?  If I was sexually active I’d get the snip in a heartbeat.  Makes me wonder what the need is for a mandatory program at all, especially since a paltry ten thousand is barely meaningful at in the grand scale of things…

    It seems strange to me that we (meaning governments and their ilk) talk of over-population and resource scarcity and jump straight to population control as a solution without changing resource usage, i.e. changing the economic model that only seems to thrive on wastefulness and unnecessary production.  Seriously do we need hundreds of different mobile phones and laptops, couldn’t we get away with two?  I know competition drives innovation (not that there’s really much of that anyway, they all just match the capabilities of each other these days) and profits are needed for research and development but which are we saying is more important here, profits and rapid faux innovation or the stability of our environment and future?
    I know it seems like I’ve gone off on a tangent but it’s all intimately related stuff.  I think it’s time we built things to last, cut back on consumerism, stopped packaging absolutely everything in plastic and re-distributed some of the wealth more appropriately, by which I don’t mean just giving everyone a share of it, I mean investing it in science and engineering to solve our resource problems.

  • Edit:  Most of the vegetables thrown away in western supermarkets can be
    re-potted and will restore themselves inside of a week, they could sell
    them cheap and people could do this themselves.  I’ve done this for a
    while now, but despite telling others nobody does it even though it
    saves quite a lot of money in the long run.  They don’t do it because
    they’re lazy.  Meanwhile there’s a global obesity crisis and at the same
    time millions homeless, starving to death and lacking basic
    amenities…  In the UK 5 billion gbp is spent every year on health care
    for self-inflicted obesity while others are denied treatment because of
    NHS funding problems…  Anyone else getting the pungent aroma of
    bullshit up their noses here?

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