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Chinese women: from astronauts to forced abortions

In the span of one week, China was lauded for sending a woman into space, then condemned for forcing one to abort a 7-month-old fetus.
Liu yang china astronaut 2012 06 19Enlarge
China's first female astronaut Liu Yang. (AFP/Getty Images)

Leave it to Sina Weibo (China's Twitter) to point out what's important.

After successfully launching a female astronaut into space last weekend, the micro-blogging site went on the PR offensive. With a campaign called, “Write a letter to the Shenzhou 9 astronauts,” the heavily censored Sina Weibo was making a not-so-subtle play for pats on the back.

#patsonthebackfail

Instead of praise for its awesome space program, China got an earful from a disgruntled public. They rattled off, according to reports, about what a waste of money it was given the country's myriad social ills — like, say, oh, toxic rice, or tainted milk, or poisonous yogurt, or cancer-causing peanuts.

But here is the money post, from Taiwan's Central News Agency, according to Worldcrunch:

China is the only country that is capable of sending a female taikonaut into orbit while at the same time being able to force a seven months pregnant woman to have an abortion.

It is a stunning contrast. Last week, aside of from the flurry about Liu Yang heading into orbit, the news in China was largely focused on a woman in Shaanxi province who was allegedly forced to have an abortion seven months into her term.

For most, the case of 22-year-old Feng Jianmei exposed the brutality of China's one-child policy. Feng couldn't afford the $6,300 it would cost to get a birth permit for her second child, so was taken to the hospital where she received a forced abortion.

These two stories, occurring as they did so close to one another — and being compared as they were on an ostensibly public website that is subject to incessant surveillance — highlight China's current troubled and contradictory state. It is the world's second largest economy, yet the wealth gap worsens. The Communist party runs a tight, centralized ship, yet scandals in the provinces expose the cracks.

Some Chinese women get launched into space, others receive injections that kill their unborn child.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/china-chinese-women-astronauts-forced-abortions