A Couple of Sparrows

by Jay Nordlinger

There are something like 1.3 billion people in China. Every once in a while, it’s nice to cite one or two of them, individually. We can’t watch the fall of every sparrow, or the strangulation of every sparrow. But we can zero in on a handful of them.

In Impromptus today, I cite a lawyer, Wang Quanzhang. He is in “detention,” which is too light a word for what is probably happening to him. He does what he does not have to do: defend Falun Gong practitioners and other targets of the state. Why do people stick their necks out in this way? They just do, some of them.

I’d like to cite one more person, here in the Corner. She’s dead, unfortunately. Her name was Sheng Hongxia, and she lived in a village called Dabancheng, in Hubei Province. She died in one of those forced sterilizations. I’ll quote a report from Women’s Rights Without Frontiers:

“On March 19, a doctor [in] Tongshan County warned that sterilizing Shen Hongxia would be life-threatening. Nevertheless, local Family Planning Officers forcibly sterilized her, in order to avoid an ‘illegal pregnancy.’ Shen Hongxia, 42, died, leaving behind her husband and two children, one of whom is two years old.”

China has made great and positive strides in recent decades. But, as those paying attention know, it is still a one-party dictatorship with a gulag. It is still a place where people are tortured to death routinely. And I’m always amazed at how many of the tortured-to-death are old women. I know it’s no worse to torture an old woman to death than it is to torture a 25-year-old man to death. Still, I can’t help being amazed. (A group called Human Rights in China keeps careful track of these things. So does the Falun Dafa Information Center.)

In my view, statesmen in free countries should bear all this in mind, when dealing with our “strategic partners,” as Bill Clinton called them, in Beijing.

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