WASHINGTON Apple, creator of the iPhone and iPad, could help bring an end to China's coercive population control program, a leading Chinese opponent of the policy is contending.
"Apple in China should take a very active role," said Chen Guangcheng, the blind lawyer who brought a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Chinese women forced to have abortions or sterilizations, according to Bloomberg News. "There's a huge social responsibility for these international corporations like Apple."
Chen and other human rights advocates sent a letter to Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive officer, asking for a meeting and urging the firm to halt coercive population control polices in its plants. Among other recommendations, they urged Apple to bar Chinese family planning authorities from access to its factories and to decline to report to the government pregnant women who do not have birth permits, Bloomberg reported Sept. 6.
"Apple is in a unique position to take a leadership role in standing up against coercive family planning in China," Chen and the others said in the letter.
Apple's latest yearly corporate responsibility report showed 24 of its factories it inspected performed pregnancy tests on female employees and 56 of its plants had no protocols to prevent discriminatory practices against pregnant women. The suppliers had halted screenings, Apple said, and it will terminate its relationship with facilities that are discriminatory, according to Bloomberg.
The human rights advocates also are asking other corporations, including Cisco Systems Inc., to call on China to end its coercive policy. They are targeting Apple first because it is the world's leading technology firm and the largest corporation by market value, a spokesman told Bloomberg.
China's population control program known as the one-child policy and instituted officially in 1980 generally limits couples in urban areas to one child and those in rural areas to two, if the first is a girl. Parents in cities may have second babies if the husband and wife are both only children.
The program has been marked by forced abortion even in the final trimester and sterilization. Infanticide, especially of females, also has been reported.
Chen, 40, filed a class-action lawsuit against the city of Linyi, which is in his home county, where there were 130,000 coerced abortions and involuntary sterilizations in 2005 alone, according to ChinaAid.
Chen was under house arrest for more than a year, and he and his wife reportedly were tortured and denied medical care during that time. Prior to his home detention, Chen served more than four years in prison on what his supporters describe as trumped-up charges by the government. The Chinese government permitted Chen and his family to come to the United States in May after he made a daring escape to the U.S. Embassy.