Biden said he ‘fully understands’ China’s one-child policy in 2011

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s past is coming back to get him.

In resurfaced video footage from 2011, Biden states that he “fully understand[s]” China’s one-child policy.

Context

China’s one-child policy was exactly what it sounds like: a policy that “encouraged” — more accurate terms might include coerce or threaten — couples to have no more than one child. It was seen as a way of addressing the country’s overpopulation problem.

The one-child policy was relaxed in 2015 to allow two children some time after it became known that the regulatory scheme in place more or less forced women into getting abortions or sterilizations. In fact, a study found that since the policy’s implementation in the 1970s, there were over 330 million abortions and 196 million sterilizations.

Biden weighs in

Biden, in 2011, was former President Barack Obama’s vice president. On this particular occasion, he was speaking to students at China’s Sichuan University. A student had asked him about the U.S. deficit, which led to Biden talking about Medicare and China’s one-child policy.

The former vice president stated in response to the student’s question that he “fully understand[s]” the one-child policy.

“As I was talking with some of your leaders, you share a similar concern,” he said. “You have no safety net. Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family.”

Biden went on to criticize the policy as “not sustainable,” arguing that the result will be only one wage earner taking care of four retired people. “So hopefully we can act in a way on a problem that’s much less severe than yours, and maybe we can learn together from how we can do that,” Biden added.

The shocking thing, however, is that Biden did not condemn the one-child policy on moral grounds. Watch:

Aftermath

After such criticism was leveled at Biden for his remark, a Biden spokeswoman stated that the administration is against “all aspects of China’s coercive birth limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization” and that “the Vice President believes such practices are repugnant.”

Biden tried to explain away his “I fully understand” comment by saying that he didn’t want to start a “polemic debate” by condemning the policy.

What this situation shows, however, is how willingly Biden let his principles take a back seat to external pressures — particularly from China. And the question is, which of his principles would he put in the back seat while dealing with China as president?

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