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TV preacher and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson has condoned China's policy of forced abortions, telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer last night that the Chinese are "doing what they have to do" to keep the lid on a spiraling population.

Robertson, who has repeatedly blasted legal abortion in the United States, said during an interview on "Wolf Blitzer Reports" that the Chinese policy is necessary because the country's population has topped 1 billion.

Asked by Blitzer to give his thoughts on the forced abortion policy, Robertson replied, "Well, you know I don't agree with it. But at the same time, they've got 1.2 billion people, and they don't know what to do. If every family over there was allowed to have three or four children, the population would be completely unsustainable."

Robertson, who acknowledged that he has business interests in China, went on to say that China suffers from "tremendous unemployment" and is plagued with "antiquated factories" owned by the government that will have to be shut down, spawning more loss of jobs. "And the leadership is like on a teeter-totter board," he said. "They can fall off if the population gets too restive. So, I think that right now they are doing what they have to do. I don't agree with forced abortion, but I don't think the United States needs to interfere with what they're doing internally in this regard."

Blitzer then asked Robertson if he was worried about conservatives accusing him of justifying the Chinese abortion policy. Robertson refused to back down, stating that China is courting "a demographic catastrophe" by aborting more girls than boys. He speculated that in 10 or 20 years Chinese men will have to import wives from Indonesia. This move, he said, "will, in a sense, dilute the--what they consider the racial purity of the Han Chinese."

Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called Robertson's comments "mind boggling."

"This is more proof of just how extreme Robertson really is," said Lynn. "He wants to ban all abortions in the U.S. and allow forced abortions in China. Robertson seems deeply confused.

"With these comments, Robertson has taken a position so radical that it would probably alienate nearly every American," Lynn added. "I wonder how many Christian Coalition members will quit when they hear this outburst."

Lynn noted that this is not the first time Robertson has justified repressive policies in China in order to advance his business interests. In September of 1998, Robertson traveled to China where he met with top government officials and praised religious freedom in the country.

Other conservative leaders have criticized China for persecuting Christian groups and forcing them underground, but Robertson said he believes the country respects religious freedom. At the time, Robertson's U.S. Media Corporation was involved in a business deal with the Chinese government to produce children's television programming.

Concluded AU's Lynn, "These statements tell us a lot about Robertson's true priorities. Apparently, he's willing to put profits ahead of principle whenever convenient."

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization represents 60,000 members and allied houses of worship in all 50 states.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.