By Edward Pentin
ROME, NOV. 10, 2011 (Zenit.org).- “Every day, every hour, there’s a Tiananmen massacre,” says Chai Ling. “Thirty-five thousand forced abortions take place in China everyday — a huge number.”
Ling, twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, knows all too well the suffering that took place in Tiananmen Square, and the trauma of abortion. But as a Christian, baptized after coming to the United States, she is also brimming with hope.
A student activist in Beijing during the 1989 massacre, she was a key leader of the pro-democracy protests that attracted 100,000 students to the square. The government’s military crackdown cost anywhere between 400 to 10,000 lives, depending on which source one cites.
But prior to the protests, as a student Ling had three forced abortions. “Abortion was an ordinary thing,” she recalls. “I was then in college and if they found out I was pregnant before marriage, I’d be kicked out of school, have no job and be very marginalized.”
Ling is now a married mother of three living in exile in the United States. After fleeing China and settling in the U.S., she studied at Princeton and Harvard, and has become a successful businesswoman (though even now, she cannot return to China).
Ling has repented of her abortions and is now devoting herself to a charity she founded called All Girls Allowed, which combats China’s one-child policy, one of whose devastating effects is the promotion of female gendercide — the forced killing of baby girls through sex-selective abortions and other means.
The shocking statistics related to the one-child policy are well known: 400 million forced abortions in the past 30 years in China, and a major gender imbalance due to the country’s traditional preference for boys. Ling says around 160 million females “are missing” in the world today (not only in China but also in India and other countries) because of a cultural preference for boys and state sponsored population control. Today, 120 boys are born for every 100 girls in China, resulting in 37 million more men than women in the country and a growth in sex trafficking, threatening peace and security.
It was to share the grave but hardly known injustice of female gendercide that brought Chai Ling to Rome this week. As a guest of the Rome-based Dignitatis Humanae Institute, she was introduced to Vatican officials and met the institute’s honorary president and former president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino. Both agreed that gendercide can and must end within a generation.
All Girls Allowed describes itself as being fully devoted to achieving this end. It focuses on this in three main ways: firstly by exposing the truth about the one-child policy to mobilize the global community to advocate against the cruel methods used to enforce it; secondly, by rescuing victims through education (of adults and abandoned girls), financial help, rescuing trafficked children, and defending mothers; and finally by celebrating “the work of God in bringing life, value and dignity to girls and mothers.”
Two key events gave Ling the impetus to found the charity: becoming a Christian after conversations with Reggie Littlejohn, the founder of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers that campaigns against China’s one-child policy, and attending a congressional hearing on forced abortion in China in 2009.
After giving her life to Jesus, she says she felt God was calling her to educate others on the truth about abortion, while at the congressional hearing, she was motivated to found a charity to address the issue after learning about the stories of forced abortions and meeting the tireless pro-life Congressman Chris Smith (whom she calls a “Wilberforce in America”). She says Smith taught her about the sanctity of life after years of “brainwashing” as a child and young adult, helping her to realize that an abortion is the termination of a baby’s life
Seeing the growth in the number of Christians in China, Ling is hopeful that these heinous practices and policies will come to an end within a generation. “The Church in China is so hungry for the truth,” she says. “Many thought we’d save China through the Tiananmen movement by having democracy, but that’s not how God sees it.” Ling believes God will save the country by primarily ending forced abortion and gendercide — a process she calls the “second Tiananmen movement.”
But for Ling, the process of education on this issue is the most urgent concern because she says, through education the Chinese people will come to know Jesus. She recounts a certainty from prayer, in which she saw a “very gentle” Christ, who said that “when we commit sin, it’s like betraying a loved one who cares for us so much.”
“It wasn’t, ‘Oh you did wrong, you’re going to hell,'” but rather just to say: ‘Oh I’m just so sorry,'” she explained, noting the sense of “complete repentance and God immediately forgiving you and lifting your head up.” That experience, she remembers, was “a powerful transformation — a complete liberation.”
Ling lost many friends during that terrible June day 22 years ago. At the height of the crackdown, she successfully boosted the morale of her fellow students, saying their sacrifices would help give birth to a new nation. But they needed something else she couldn’t then articulate.
At the time Jesus was unknown to her. “I had faced death, looked it into the eye, but I didn’t overcome it — in other words I didn’t have the peace nor the joy, just sadness, sorrow and fear,” she recalls. “But we had a duty, we knew we had to confront whatever we were confronting.
“Then, after I’d given my speech, I felt this huge warm sensation come into my heart — a sense of love toward the leaders of China, toward the soldiers, the people who were about to kill us. It was the most amazing feeling and I wished they had known how much we’d loved them.”
“Now I know that this must be how Jesus felt on the cross,” Ling says.
She remembers witnessing “a power, an amazing spirit” at Tiananmen Square, but at the time she didn’t know how to articulate it.
“I’ve since come to know that it’s the spirit of Jesus,” she says. “Then everything started to makes sense.”
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Chai Ling recently published a very well-received autobiography called “A Heart for Freedom”: http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Freedom-Remarkable-Dissident-Daughters/dp/161045281X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320987181&sr=1-1
All Girls Allowed: www.allgirlsallowed.org/
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Edward Pentin is a freelance writer and the Director of Communications for the Dignitatis Humanae Institute.