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Biden dismisses criticism of comment on China's one-child policy

August 26, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
(Michael A. Memoli / Los Angeles…)

Reporting from on board Air Force Two — Vice President Joe Biden brushed off criticism of his comments about China's one-child policy as "predictable" political attacks, saying his position against the controversial practice was made clear to Chinese leaders during his recent visit.

Republicans, mainly those running for president, seized on a statement from the keynote speech of Biden's four-day China tour, when he said he did not second-guess the policy of limiting Chinese families to only one child per couple.

"Your policy has been one which I fully understand -- I'm not second-guessing -- of one child per family.  The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable," Biden said at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, on Sunday.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney called the line "reprehensible."

House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement that he was "deeply troubled."

"No government on Earth has the authority to place quotas on the value of innocent human life, or to treat life as an economic commodity that can be regulated and taken away on a whim by the state," Boehner said.

But aides said Biden was making an economic, rather than moral, argument against the coercive practice.

Speaking with reporters as he was returning home to Wilmington, Del., on Thursday night, Biden said the policy is "repugnant."

"My point to them was it's also not very wise economically," he said. "When they talked about what is our long-term need to deal with entitlements …  I basically wanted to point out, 'We ain't got anything near the problem you have,'" he said.

When engaging with China, Biden said diplomacy means avoiding a "polemic debate."

"So the Chinese had no illusions in my private conversations – even the public ones – [about] the policy," he said.

Biden returned to Delaware from Hawaii Friday morning, capping a 10-day trip that included stops in Mongolia and Japan.

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