On Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, the case was among the top trending topics Thursday afternoon, attracting almost a million comments.
Most users appear to side with the couple and condemn the officials. “Bring the murderers to justice” was a commonly posted demand.
It is a case of forced abortion—out of the millions that have taken place—which seems to have struck a deep chord with many people in China. The Chinese authorities have actually issued an apology in this case, in which a woman who was seven months pregnant had her baby ripped out of her womb and killed solely on the grounds that she and her husband could not come up with the requisite “fine” in order to legally have the baby.
The story is apparently receiving an unprecedented level of attention in China, and I do not think that its potential resonance should be underestimated.
The Chinese have many reasons to be unhappy with their elitist rulers, but inertia has always outweighed the momentum of change. This particular issue has a visceral power beyond all others.
“I wish this case could be the turning point in China’s family planning policy, to comfort the spirit of this child in heaven,” wrote Zheng Haitao, a financial magazine editor.
He Yafu, an independent demographer, said any hope of change must await the party leadership transition this fall and a new Cabinet next spring. He advocates abolition of the policy and says doing so would have minimal effect on China’s birthrate. A major obstacle is that authorities have come to rely on the fines they can levy, He said.
Ignoring threats warning him not to get involved, lawyer Zhang Kai said he was traveling to Shaanxi to assist the couple.
“I think governments shouldn’t ‘plan’ family planning, it’s the citizen’s right,” Zhang said. “God won’t allow humans to do forced abortions, and he’s unhappy to see it.”