HONG KONG, April 1, 2008—Radio Free Asia’s Cantonese service took top honors at Hong Kong’s 12th Annual Human Rights Press Awards for its reporting on forced abortions that led to riots and an official investigation in the southwestern Chinese province of Guangxi.
Fung Pui Shan of RFA-Cantonese won in the category of Chinese-language radio broadcast. Presented on March 29, the prize was given by Amnesty International Hong Kong, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, and the Hong Kong Journalists Association.
“This award is an important recognition of RFA’s ability to break news of critical importance to our audience in Asia. I congratulate RFA’s Cantonese Service, Pui Shan in particular, for this significant work,” said James K. Glassman, Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which funds RFA.
One of the women interviewed for the series welcomed news of the award and said she was happy that RFA was able to expose officials’ heavy-handed enforcement of China’s controversial “one-child” policy.
“Very few media would do this...I don’t want to mention this again, but with regard to human rights, of course I hope the mainland will improve its record,” she said.
RFA’s reporting found that authorities in China’s southwestern region of Guangxi forced dozens of pregnant women to a hospital in Baise city to undergo abortions, some as late as nine months, the women and their relatives said.
Staff at the People’s Hospital in Youjiang confirmed that the obstetrics and gynecology department was full. “Right now we’re in the middle of a family planning foray this month so beds are very scarce. Suddenly there are so many patients here,” one woman who answered the phone in obstetrics and gynecology said.
Under China’s family planning rules, local officials must keep new births in their region down below a specified target or face fines and a poor career record.
Family planning officials have been reported to use violence in many parts of China in order to keep births down. Couples who get pregnant after more than one child have complained of beatings and even house demolitions resulting from their breach of strict population guidelines.
A spokesman for the China Population and Family Planning Commission in Beijing said the commission had sought an investigation. “We have learned of the situation in Baise. We have already asked the Guangxi Population and Family Planning Commission to investigate the incident and report back to us,” the spokesman said.