Newspaper article International New York Times

China Blocks Critic's Birth Policy Sites

Newspaper article International New York Times

China Blocks Critic's Birth Policy Sites

Article excerpt

Fuxian Yi, a Chinese scientist and demographer, said half a dozen accounts, including on Weibo and his blogs, were shuttered a month ago.

On Aug. 8, cutesy graphics and laconic messages of blocked content replaced 12 years of flourishing conversation about China's intrusive family planning policies on the home pages of Fuxian Yi's social media accounts.

Dr. Yi, a Chinese scientist and demographer, is indignant over the concerted act of censorship that struck a month ago. He said the simultaneous shuttering of half a dozen accounts, including on Weibo and his blogs, indicated that the censorship had been ordered at a high level, probably by the country's powerful internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, at the request of the Family Planning and Health Commission of China, for whom he has long been an irritant.

The Cyberspace Administration of China, the National Family Planning and Health Commission and leading internet companies including Sina, Tencent and NetEase, which censor on behalf of the government, did not respond to calls and faxed requests for comment.

Still, he is not downcast, Dr. Yi said in an interview.

"Of course, I'm furious. But not as furious as everyone might think, because what's different today from 10 years ago is that public opinion has shifted," he wrote by email from the United States, where he is a senior scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Today, Dr. Yi, a father of three, believes that most Chinese agree with him that the state should get out of their bedrooms, and are increasingly willing to say so in public.

"Public opinion is firmly on the side of ending family planning policies," Dr. Yi said, basing his conclusion on the tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of online comments that have now vanished, his public speaking in China, and reactions to the social and statistical research in his book "Big Country With an Empty Nest," which was published in China in 2013.

There he wrote: "Family planning was born in haste, conducted with violence and will end in equivocation and cover-up."

Crucial among the reasons: public disgust at the physical coercion and financial penalties that accompanied it. …

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