I WAS interested to read the article "China discovers that women have rights, too" (5 March) describing the behaviour of the Chinese authorities prior to the UN Fourth World Conference on Women. What I found even more interesting was that no mention was made of the enforced and coercive population control methods employed in China.

Many people are aware of China's one-child policy but few are aware of how it is enforced. The policy is in contradiction to the UN Declaration of Human Rights which states that "every couple has the right to freely found a family and decide the number and spacing of any children". China's minister for "Family Planning" said that "the size of the family is too important to be left to the couple. Births are a matter of state planning. A couple cannot just have a baby because they want to."

This "family planning" is carried out by means of mandatory "contraception" by IUD, an abortifacient method of birth control, and enforced abortion of children conceived without a permit. The policy has caused a massive increase in the abortion of unborn girls by parents who are desperate to have a son. In Tibet the population control programme amounts to "genocide" of the Tibetan people.

Before we sing the praises of China's treatment of women, it would be wise to investigate the effect of so many years of enforced population control on Chinese women's physical and mental health.

Kate Wallace

Chester

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