Obama Administration Gave Over $340 Million to UN Agency Complicit with China’s One-Child Policy

"China has every reason to feel proud of and pleased with its remarkable achievements made in its family planning policy and control of its population growth over the past 10 years.”

—Nafis Sadik, then-executive director of UNFPA (Xinhua News Agency, April 11, 1991)

For decades, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has operated a family planning program in cooperation with the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) where human rights abuses, including forced abortion and forced sterilization, were rampant under the notorious one-child policy.

A recent report from the U.S. Department of State now shows that the Obama administration in its last year obligated $68 million in federal funding to the controversial U.N. agency.[1] Altogether, since 2009, the Obama administration has given over $340 million to the UNFPA in either disbursements or obligations.[2]

With the exception of the Obama administration, every administration since President Reagan has at some point cut off U.S. funding for UNFPA. President Obama now stands as the only U.S. president since the advent of the one-child policy to have funded UNFPA throughout his entire term in office.

In 2002, the Bush administration cut funding to UNFPA after it was confirmed that China’s family planning program levied severe fines for couples who exceeded their birth quota. UNFPA was also found to have helped finance computers and vehicles for the Chinese government to more efficiently and effectively execute its programs.

Since 2011, Congress has gradually cut back on core funding for UNFPA—the traditional mainstay of U.S. government funding for the multilateral.

But in the last years of the Obama administration, the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) gave additional funding to UNFPA from other sources of foreign aid. The amount of money the U.S. government gave to UNFPA from other sources of foreign aid has more than compensated for the decrease in core contributions that Republican members of Congress had worked hard to achieve.

Since 2015, USAID has obligated more than $26 million in international disaster assistance to UNFPA. Last year, the Department of State also obligated an additional $20 million to UNFPA from migration and refugee assistance grants.

UNFPA’s complicity with—and at times, even praise of—China’s one-child policy goes back to the very beginning. In 1983, UNFPA even awarded its inaugural U.N. Population Award to the Chairman of China’s National Family Planning Commission, the very person who was responsible for directing the implementation of the one-child policy.

In 1998, UNFPA began operating a family planning program in China at the behest of the Communist government. UNFPA has since insisted that it does not promote abortion as a method of family planning and that its cooperation with the Chinese government in family planning programs does not constitute an endorsement of the one-child policy. UNFPA claimed that family planning programs in project counties were “fully voluntary” and that birth quotas were abolished in counties where they operate family planning programs as “a condition of UNFPA assistance.”


Yet, on-the-ground investigations by the Population Research Institute in 2001 revealed that forced abortion and sterilization remained widespread and a matter of public policy in UNFPA project counties.

In Fujian Province, where UNFPA operated one of its many county projects, women were required to submit to quarterly pelvic exams and to be fitted with an IUD. Women who became pregnant before 20 years of age were forced to submit to an abortion, forced sterilization, and a 10,000 yuan fine.

To this day, women in China who find themselves pregnant with their third or fourth child are often forced to pay crushing fines equal to as much as ten times their annual income unless they submit to an abortion.

“The American taxpayer should not be forced to foot the bill for a U.N. agency that has aided and abetted China’s coercive family planning program,” says Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher.

Previous administrations have cut funding to UNFPA by invoking the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, a federal funding condition included in every foreign appropriations act since 1985. The Kemp-Kasten Amendment allows the president to cut federal funding to any organization that he or she determines to be involved in a program that promotes coercive abortion or sterilization.


President Donald Trump’s presidential memorandum on January 23rd reinstated the Mexico City Policy, cutting funding to foreign nongovernmental organizations that perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning. But the president’s memorandum also directed the secretary of state to enforce Kemp-Kasten. The decision of whether UNFPA will continue to receive funding thus now lies in the hands of the Secretary Tillerson.



[1] More funds were obligated for UNFPA in 2016 than disbursements in any year since at least 1999. Inflation is not taken into account. In 1985, Congress appropriated $46 million to UNFPA and withheld $10 million. The net appropriation of $36 million dollars is equal to more than $80 million in today’s currency.

[2] Total includes disbursements from 2009-2014 and obligations from 2015-2016, according to figures reported annually by the Department of State to Congress. No obligations are double counted as disbursements and vice versa,but disbursements during 2015-2016 previously obligated prior to 2015 are missing from this figure. Disbursements represent actual funding released by the U.S. Government to UNFPA. Obligations represent liabilities the U.S. Government is legally obligated to pay in the future.