ABC News' Devin Dwyer ( @devindwyer) reports:
Addressing social and budgetary challenges faced by the U.S. and China in the wake of respective population booms, Biden told his audience, “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,” he said. “So hopefully we can act in a way on a problem that's much less severe than yours, and maybe we can learn together from how we can do that.”
China’s one-child policy, which is enforced through fines, abortions and forced sterilizations of women who are found to have violated the law, is roundly criticized by human rights groups and governments around the world.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lashed out at the Vice President for his remarks, saying Biden’s “acquiescence to such a policy should shock the conscience of every American.”
“Instead of condoning the policy, Vice President Biden should have condemned it in the strongest possible terms,” Romney said in a statement. “There can be no defense of a government that engages in compulsory sterilization and forced abortions in the name of population control."
House Speaker John Boehner issued an earlier statement in which he said he was “deeply troubled” by Biden’s comments and that the “reprehensible” policy should never be condoned by an American official.
Biden’s office did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment on the criticism or clarification of his remarks. The Vice President is in Japan on the final stop of his week-long mission to East Asia.