UK Parliamentarians Say UNFPA is Force for Good in China

22 May 2002
Author: UNFPA

A team of parliamentarians from the United Kingdom has returned from China with praise for the UN Population Fund's work there.

The Parliamentarians recently visited China to investigate allegations that the Population Fund is supporting coercive family planning practices. Team members Christine McCafferty (Labour), Edward Leigh (Conservative) and Norman Lamb (Liberal Democrat), who travelled to China from 1-9 April, described their findings at an event in London on 21 May.

Mr. Leigh said he had understood that UNFPA was against any form of coercion and that the Fund was working to convince the Chinese Government that there is an alternative route.

"The Chinese Government agreed to remove [family planning] quotas and there is a clear desire to give women the choice," said Mr. Leigh, adding, "The Chinese Government was refreshingly open about its one-child policy. The UNFPA is trying to convince the Chinese Government against the one-child policy. The advantage of having the UNFPA in China is that they can act as a point of contact with the Government to promote international standards."

"I also came to the conclusion that there was no evidence to implicate UNFPA in any coercive practice," said Mr. Lamb. "In fact it was very much the opposite. I was amazed and encouraged by the number of people in key positions who are pushing policy in the right direction. It is vital for UNFPA to keep in there, supporting these reforms.

"There is now a legal framework, rather than ruling by diktat, for family planning and for giving people rights," continued Mr. Lamb. "The removal of the child quotas that had to be met by local officials is key to changing the whole approach to family planning."

Prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS is also a critical issue, he added. "China is on the precipice for a dramatic increase in HIV/AIDS and UNFPA is very clearly engaged on changing official stands on that front."

For her part, Ms. McCafferty said she had been pleased to observe the clear desire for change shown by the Chinese authorities with regard to family planning.

"We had the opportunity to ask [questions of] a number of people at random and the desire for small families appears quite embedded. The economic perspective behind this is a very powerful one. Also, the Chinese people seem hugely aware of population and environment issues. They are not ashamed to talk about population as an environmental issue.

"We all arrived at the conclusion that UNFPA funding was important," Ms McCafferty added. "All the areas where UNFPA is working have removed the old child quotas or targets and now the Chinese Government is going to remove those quotas from many more counties - without outside pressure to do so. China needs our help and support so we should not even think of withdrawing funding from the UNFPA. "

Contact Information:

Obi Emekekwue
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5043

United Kingdom
Population : 67 mil
Fertility rate
Maternal Mortality Ratio
Contraceptives prevalence rate
Population aged 10-24
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 98%
Girls 98%

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