Yeomni Park is a 21-year-old defector from the nation of North Korea. She and her mother (who was considered a criminal for moving without permission) escaped the brutal North Korean regime. They ended up in China…and things got worse. As we continue to hear more on the “war on women” in America’s political battles, it is good to remember that the terrible suffering of women (and men) in places like North Korea and China.
Emma Watson, the lovely British actress best known for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, is now a Goodwill ambassador for the United Nations. The program she is touting is called HeForShe (yes, I know that sounds like a support group for transgendered folk, but that’s beside the point.) It is, according to the website, a “solidarity movement for gender equality.” Basically, they want men (the “He”) to start supporting women’s (the “She”) equality.
There are certainly many places in the world where women face incredible challenges. Far too many women and girls lack basic access to voting, education, the free ability to travel on their own and to own property. These injustices clearly need to be addressed.
Today marks the 34th anniversary of China’s horrific one-child policy. It is hard to think of any other single policy that has claimed the lives of so many women, both born and unborn, and affected a nation in such a detrimental way. According to Women’s Rights Without Frontiers the Chinese government:
The One Child Policy causes more violence against women and girls than any other official policy on earth.
The One Child Policy is China’s war on women. Any discussion of women’s rights, or human rights, would be a charade if forced abortion in China is not front and center.
While Jezebel tells women to get fighting mad about having to pay more for deodorant than men, and HuffPo is worried about why women “really” shave their legs, real feminists (you know, those who care about all women [and men], from conception until natural death) are noting that girls in China are in no better shape than they were under the most draconian years of Communism.
Girls are being abandoned: at train stations, at “baby hatches,” at orphanages, or simply left on the street. If the girl is sick, her chances of getting abandoned climb. Simply being female is a risk. A girl in China is twice as likely as a boy to die in the first year of life; if she makes it past her first birthday, her chance of dying triples.
One girl, 14-year-old Chen Shuzhen of the Hubei Province was abandoned after testing positive for leukemia.
Chen says she understands why her mother abandoned her, but hopes that once she dies her corneas can be used to help another child. (more…)
Once, in a Bible study I was involved with, we women got chatting, and one lady (as we were discussing poverty in Haiti) said, “If we could just get those women to stop having so many kids…” [drawn-out sigh.] My reply was that we didn’t need to stop women from having babies; we needed to help educate women.
For years, organizations like the World Health Organization have tried to distribute artificial birth control in the developing world. The thinking here is that if families have fewer children, there will be more opportunities for the health and welfare of the children who are born. Of course, this mentality fails on several counts. First, it overlooks religious and cultural values in many places around the world where large families are desired, and where artificial birth control is considered sinful. Second, even the World Health Organization notes that many forms of artificial birth control are known carcinogens. Finally, in many developing countries, the simplest of health care is out-of-reach both financially and geographically. That is, a family that cannot afford netting treated to ward off mosquitoes carrying malaria or who has to walk days to reach a clinic are certainly not going to be able to utilize artificial birth control with any regularity – which means it won’t work. (more…)
Japan and Australia recently signed and passed a trade agreement that abolishes or reduces some tariffs on their highest grossing trade items: beef and dairy from Australia and electronics from Japan. State officials as well as the media have branded this a “free trade agreement;” however, this is actually an example of a “Preferential Bilateral Trade Agreement.” While this is not as desirable as free trade agreements are, it is certainly a step in the right direction. Trade is almost always mutually beneficial provided that neither party is coerced – if it were not, then trade would never take place. Because of the international success of free trade agreements in that region, China is being forced to keep up by becoming more competitive in the international market.
Early this month, China met with South Korea to begin drafting a new bilateral trade agreement. The result is the Won-Yuan trading market in Seoul, which will be complete by the end of the year. This will enable South Korea to trade with China and not rely upon the dollar to do so, thus accelerating trade between the two countries. Up until this agreement passed, the Korean Won was not directly convertible to the Chinese Yuan, requiring the two countries to find another currency as the medium of exchange, specifically, the U.S. dollar. The agreement illustrates that China is increasing the economic freedom of the country in an attempt to boost its wealth and trade efficiency. Acton’s director of research, Samuel Gregg recently discussed transitions to more economic freedom and the ensuing religious freedom that comes with that. Gregg states:
Once you grant liberty in one area, it’s hard to preclude freedom from spreading to other spheres. Economic liberty, for instance, requires and encourages people to think and choose freely. Without this, entrepreneurship is impossible. It’s challenging, however, to limit this reflection and choosing to economic questions. People start asking social questions, political questions, and, yes, religious questions. And many Chinese have decided Christianity is the answer to their religious ponderings.
China has the experienced benefits from economic deregulation experiments, such as in Hong Kong, and the country as a whole seems to be headed down a very similar path. Liberty in China has had a direct connection to economic improvement. The government seems to have had a proclivity to allow such freedoms in order to attain wealth. By lessening trade restrictions, they are crafting a tomb for their socialist regime.
Thanks to the trade act, China is allowing for religious freedom to take hold as Gregg points out. China is still one of the most religiously repressed countries at this time, which is continued only due to the government’s power over it. With the wane of the Chinese government’s power, there will be a more vibrant religious and cultural exchange that comes naturally with trade. When there are multiple faiths and ideals, ideas are challenged and thoughts are provoked. Truth is often the result, and liberty follows, whether it be economic, cultural, or religious. In this particular instance, North Korea sees the trade agreement as an attack. One stratagem countries such as North Korea employ is isolation. The North Korean people know little more than what the government tells them, and they are only aware of the culture that the government deems appropriate.
The days of the Chinese socialist state are numbered. Chinese people are ready for change, as can be seen in their willingness to adapt to more Western methods of thinking and ideals such as the growing respect for personal liberty and free markets. If China is careful about the transformation, and realizes what is happening; it could become one of the wealthiest countries in physical capital, knowledge, culture, and liberty. It remains a country to keep a careful eye on over the next decade.
Wenzhou is called “China’s Jerusalem” because of the number of churches that have popped up around the city. And Sanjiang Church was, according to the New York Times, the “pride of this city’s growing Christian population.”
That was before the government brought in bulldozers and razed the church building to the ground.
The government claimed the the church violated zoning regulations, but an internal government document revealed the truth: “The priority is to remove crosses at religious activity sites on both sides of expressways, national highways and provincial highways,” the document says. “Over time and in batches, bring down the crosses from the rooftops to the facade of the buildings.”
Unfortunately, China is not the only country that is inflicting damage on religious property. A new Pew Research Center analysis finds that such incidents are occurring in almost three dozen countries around the world:
China’s one-child policy and a cultural preference for boys means that the world’s most populous country has a severe shortage of women. That means a severe shortage of brides. And that means a human trafficking crisis.
Kiab, a Vietnamese girl who had just turned 16, was told by her brother that he was taking her to a party. Instead, he sold her as a bride to a Chinese man.
The ethnic Hmong teenager spent nearly a month in China until she was able to escape her new husband, seek help from local police and return to Vietnam.
“My brother is no longer a human being in my eyes ― he sold his own sister to China,” Kiab, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, told AFP [Agence France-Presse] at a shelter for trafficking victims in the Vietnamese border town Lao Cai.
Vulnerable women in countries close to China ― not only Vietnam but also North Korea, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar ― are being forced into marriages in the land of the one-child policy, experts say.
Writing for Canada’s National Post, Acton University lecturer Fr. Raymond de Souza calls our attention to the 25th anniversary this year of the defeat of communism and observes that “there are new questions about the unity of liberties.” In the 1980s, he writes, “when in the Gdansk shipyard the workers began to rattle the cage of communism, they demanded economic liberties (free trade unions), personal liberties (speech, the press), political liberties (democracy), legal liberties (against the police state) and religious liberty (the strikers insisted upon public worship in the shipyard itself).”
In continuity with older revolutions and even older political philosophy, he adds, “the liberties demanded were thought to be all of a piece. Liberty was not divisible, it was thought and often said. Today that question is is up for debate.”
For decades, China and Vietnam have clashed over control of parts of South China Sea, which is rich in oil and fish. Earlier this month, China moved an oil drilling rig into waters claimed by Vietnam. The Vietnamese government sent vessels trying to stop Beijing’s deployment. Chinese ships responded by firing water cannons, which sparked protests in Vietnam. Thousands of protestors torched Chinese-owned businesses and factories. On May 18, Vietnamese security forces moved to stop the protests while the Chinese government sent four ships to evacuate Chinese citizens from Vietnam.
Where exactly is Vietnam?
Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. The country is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea to the east. Although roughly the size of New Mexico, Vietnam has a population of over 89 million, about the same as California, New York, and Texas combined. It is the world’s 13th-most-populous country, and the eighth-most-populous Asian country.
What type of government and economy is in place in Vietnam?
On Tuesday, April 29, the Acton Institute hosted the conference Faith, State, and the Economy: perspectives from East and West at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. This conference was the first in a five-part international conference series – One and Indivisible? The Relationship Between Religious and Economic Freedom.
The one-night event, moderated by Acton’s Rev. Robert A. Sirico, featured four prominent speakers who offered deeper insight into the question of the relationship between religious freedom and economic liberty. The speakers represented a diversity of global perspectives on the relationship between religious and economic freedom.
Rev. Prof. Martin Rhonheimer of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, located in Rome, presented on Christianity and the Limits of State Power. Rhonheimer discussed the important and inherent link between limited government and a flourishing free market, the historical roots of the free market in Christian civilization, and the danger of Christians who fail to understand the link between Christianity and a free market economy.
Following Rhonheimer, Archbishop Maroun Elias Lahham of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem for Jordan offered his perspectives on Christians and the Challenge of Freedom in the Middle East. Samuel Gregg, the Director of Research at the Acton Institute, followed with an engaging analysis on contemporary issues in his presentation Religious Liberty and Economic Freedom: Intellectual and Practical Paradoxes. Gregg revealed some of the ways that greater economic freedom may lead to greater religious liberty, using the Chinese situation as a case study.