Steven W. Mosher

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Steven Westley Mosher[1] (born May 9, 1948)[2] is an American social scientist, anti-abortion activist and author who specializes in anthropology, demography and in Chinese population control. He is the president of the Population Research Institute, an advocate for human rights in China, and has been instrumental in exposing abuses in China's one-child policy as well as other human rights abuses in population control programs around the world.[3]

He has previously served as the Director of the Claremont Institute's Asian Study Center, as well as Commissioner of the US Commission on Broadcasting to China.[4]


Mosher was born in 1948 to working class parents in Scotia, California and spent his early years in Fresno, California. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in May 1968, and attended Nuclear Power School before being selected for the Seaman to Admiral program. He received a B.S. degree in Biological Oceanography from the University of Washington in 1971, graduating summa cum laude and receiving a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. The following year he earned an M.S. in Biological Oceanography. For the next three years, he served with the U.S. Seventh Fleet in the Far East, achieving the rank of Lieutenant. In early 1976, following his naval service, he enrolled in the Chinese language program of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, completing the two-year course of study in 9 months. Awarded a three-year National Science Foundation fellowship, he was admitted to the doctoral program in anthropology at Stanford University, earning an M.A. in East Asian Studies in 1977, and an M.A. in Anthropology in 1978, and carrying out anthropological fieldwork on rural communities in Taiwan.

Visit to China and expulsion from Stanford[edit]

In 1979 Mosher became the first American research student to conduct anthropological research in rural China after the Cultural Revolution.[citation needed] He was given early access to China at the request of Jimmy Carter to Deng Xiaoping. He also traveled to Guizhou,[5] then a somewhat remote and rarely visited part of China's southwest. Mosher is known in Chinese as Mao Sidi.[2] (Chinese: 毛思迪; pinyin: Máosīdí),[6] In 1981 Mosher was denied re-entry to China by the Chinese government, which considered he had broken its laws and acted unethically.

Mosher was expelled from Stanford University's Ph.D program after publishing an article in Taiwan about his experiences in Guangdong. This expulsion occurred shortly before the publication of Broken Earth.[7] The Chinese government was challenged by the contents of the book, which revealed among other things that forced abortions were common in that part of China as a part of the one-child policy. He also released photographs of Chinese women undergoing forced abortions with their faces exposed, a possible violation of personal privacy, according to standards of anthropological ethics.[8] He was expelled from Stanford University due to "illegal and unethical conduct." The Mosher case became a cause célèbre in the academic world,[9] for it was said[10] that Stanford acted under pressure from the Chinese government, which threatened to withhold permission for future Stanford researchers to visit China. However, Stanford said that its concern was that Mosher's informants had been put in jeopardy and that this was contrary to anthropological ethics.[11]

According to Mosher's book, Journey to the Forbidden China, he had a travel permit signed by the proper authority (Section Chief Liu of the Canton Public Security Office) to go into the "forbidden area" of Guizhou because it was en route to his destination of Sichuan. Mosher gave a copy of the travel permit to the American Consulate before he met with the Chinese authorities to discuss the incident.

In the period after the Mosher controversy, it became much more difficult for American anthropologists to work in China; although Daniel M. Amos, then a doctoral student in anthropology at UCLA, successfully completed field research in Guangdong province between June 1980 and August 1981.[12] Many other anthropologists from the United States were limited to three weeks' stay.[13]

According to the Los Angeles Times, Mosher successfully lobbied the George W. Bush administration to withhold $34 to $40 million per year for seven years from the United Nations Population Fund, the largest international donor to family planning programs.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Mosher, a convert to Roman Catholicism, lives in Virginia with his wife, Vera, and has nine children.[15][16] In 1983, he married Hwang Hui Wa, an assistant professor of English and Chinese at Fu Hsing Technical College in Taiwan, after his previous marriage to Maggie So, a Hong Kong Chinese of Guangdong descent, ended in divorced in 1981.[17]

Selected bibliography[edit]

Steven Mosher has authored the following books as well as numerous articles and op-eds:

  • Broken Earth (1984)
  • Journey To The Forbidden China (1985)
  • China Misperceived: American Illusions and Chinese Reality (1990)
  • A Mother's Ordeal: One Woman's Fight Against China's One Child Policy (1993)[18]
  • Hegemon: China's Plan to Dominate Asia and the World (2002)
  • Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits (2008)
  • Growing Chinese Power—to What End (2012)
  • China Attacks. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 3rd edition (2013), ISBN 978-1481973809
  • Bully of Asia: Why ′China's Dream′ Is the New Threat to World Order (2017), ISBN 978-1621576969


  1. ^ Turner, Wallace (February 26, 1983). "Stanford ousts Ph.D. candidate over his use of data on China". New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2014. The Chinese have cut off scholars' access to rural areas since they started criticizing the behavior of the graduate student, Steven Westley Mosher, 34 years old.
  2. ^ a b "Mosher, Steven W." LC Name Authority File. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  3. ^ Population Research Institute: Our President
  4. ^ "Mosher, Steven: 417 Articles at". Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  5. ^ Frank Gibney, book review in Los Angeles Times , 6 October 1985
  6. ^ "毛思迪 (Mosher, Steven W.)". Worldcat Identities. Retrieved 2015-07-14.
  7. ^ Mosher, Steven W. (2008). Broken Earth. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781439119679.
  8. ^ Horowitz, Irving Louis, "Struggling for the Soul of Social science," article in Society, Vol. 20, No. 5, pp. 4–15
  9. ^ Nicolas Rothwell, publ. in Quadrant, Australia, 1984, p. 92
  10. ^ Antonia Finnane, "Daughters, Sons, and Human Rights in China", article in Human Rights and Gender Politics: Asia-Pacific Perspectives, ed. Anne-Marie Hilsdon, publ. Routledge/Taylor and Francis, London, 2000, p. 93
  11. ^ Ethics and the Profession of Anthropology, ed. Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, publ. AltaMira Press, Oxford, p. 163
  12. ^ Daniel Amos in Marginality and the Hero's Art, Ph.D. dissertation, UCLA, 1983
  13. ^ Stevan Harrell in Fieldwork Connections, ed. Ayi Bamo, Stevan Harrell, Lunzy Ma, publ. Univ. of Washington Press, 2007, p. 27
  14. ^ Weiss, Kenneth R. (July 22, 2012). "Fertility rates fall, but global population explosion goes on". Los Angeles Times.
  15. ^ "Our President | Population Research Institute". Retrieved 2014-05-03.
  16. ^ Frawley Desmond, Joan (January 20, 2012). "Steve Mosher: A Vision of "Hell" Brought Him to the Church". National Catholic Register. Retrieved December 14, 2016.
  17. ^ Turner, Wallace (February 26, 1983). "Stanford ousts Ph.D. candidate over his use of data on China". New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-09-10. Retrieved 2014-09-09.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]

  • Population Research Institute: Our President
  • [1] Antonia Finnane, "Daughters, Sons, and Human Rights in China"
  • [2] Los Angeles Times book review, October 6, 1985
  • [3] "Informed Consent in Anthropologial Research", article in Ethics and the Profession of Anthropology, ed. Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban
  • [4] Frank Pieke, "Serendipity: Reflections on fieldwork in China", article in Anthropologists in a Wider World ed. Paul Dresch, Wendy James and David Parkin, publ. Berghahn Books, 2000.
  • [5] Stevan Harrell, "A White Guy Discovers Anthropology," in Fieldwork Connections
  • [6] Joan Frawley Desmond: "Steve Mosher: A Vision of "Hell" Brought Him to the Church", in National Catholic Register, January 20, 2012.
  • [7] Steven W. Mosher: "Do the Pope and I live on the same planet?", in New York Post, July 5, 2015.
  • [8] Steven W. Mosher: "Fact-Check: No, Hillary, China has not stopped doing forced abortions", in National Right to Life News Today, October 26, 2016.
  • [9] "關於毛思迪(STEVEN WESTLEY MOSHER)案"