Where China Got Its Ideas for Population Control

Following the high-profile drama of Chen Guangcheng, Robert Zubrin, author of Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, explores the origins of the Chinese one-child policy; the country’s brutal population control machinery Chen Guangcheng has so resolutely opposed.

While many are familiar with the ruthless measures to impose the one-child rule, such as forced abortions and sterilizations; few are aware of where the ideas that gave rise to these barbaric practices came from.

Robert Zubrin’s piece in the Washington Times provides a disconcerting answer. The analyses and models behind China’s population control in its early days came from the West. They were inspired by the reports of the Club of Rome, a think tank that unites Heads of States, UN bureaucrats, diplomats, scientists and business leaders who claim they “share a common concern for the future of humanity and the planet.”

In June 1978, Song Jian, a top-level manager in charge of developing control systems for the Chinese guided-missile program, traveled to Helsinki for an international conference on control-system theory and design. While in Finland, he picked up copies of “The Limits to Growth” and “Blueprint for Survival”- publications of the Club of Rome, a major source of Malthusian propaganda – and made the acquaintance of several Europeans who were promoting the report’s method of using computerized “systems analysis” to predict and design the human future.

Fascinated by the possibilities, Mr. Song returned to China and republished the Club’s analysis under his own name (without attribution), establishing his reputation for brilliant and original thinking. In no time at all, Mr. Song became a scientific superstar. Seizing the moment to grasp for greater power and importance, he pulled together an elite group of mathematicians from within his department and, with the help of a powerful computer to provide the necessary special effects, issued the profoundly calculated judgment that China’s “correct” population size was 650 million to 700 million people – which is to say, some 280 million to 330 million less than its actual 1978 population.

Mr. Song’s analysis quickly found favor at top levels of the Chinese Communist Party because it purported to prove that the reason for China’s continued poverty was not 30 years of disastrous misrule, but the very existence of the Chinese people. Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and his fellows in the Central Committee were very impressed by the pseudo-scientific computer babble Mr. Song used to dress up his theory and even more impressed by the possibilities that arrogating the power to permit or deny children would provide to the state.

Thus began the most forceful population-control program since Nazi Germany.

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