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.”
But, Biden continued, the policy leaves Chinese families "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.”
The Chinese government enforces its one-child policy with fines, mandatory abortions and forced sterilizations of women who are found to have violated the law. It is roundly criticized by human rights groups and governments around the world.
Republicans seized on the first part of Biden's remarks, accusing him of condoning the policy and not speaking out forcefully enough against it.
“Acquiescence to such a policy should shock the conscience of every American,” said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
He "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."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said "Biden’s refusal to ‘second-guess’ this horrendous policy demonstrates great moral indifference on the part of the Obama Administration."
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 spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said the vice president was far from condoning the policy, and "strongly opposes all aspects" of it as does the entirety of the Obama administration.
“The Vice President believes such practices are repugnant," Barkoff said in a statement. "He also pointed out, in China, that the policy is, as a practical matter, unsustainable. He was arguing against the One Child Policy to a Chinese audience.”
The Vice President is in Japan on the final stop of his week-long mission to East Asia.
NOTE: This blog was updated from an earlier post to include comment from the Vice President's office and a statement from Texas Gov. Rick Perry.