China faces population imbalance crisis

Times Online Jane Macartney in Beijing

China will be short of 30 million brides within 15 years, according to an official report into the country’s burgeoning population. About one in every ten men aged between 20 and 45 – equivalent to almost the population of Canada – will be unable to find a wife, it has projected.

The findings, from the State Population and Family Planning Commission, outline bleak prospects not only for bachelors. The report says that the inevitable gender imbalance could result in social instability – a threat that the ruling Communist Party regards as the greatest risk to its grip on power. Read entire story.

This article is disturbing to me — not because of the social instability that may result from the larger percentage of men — but rather because women are so devalued that female fetuses are aborted. When I think of what life must be like for a girl living in China, I am not surprised that China has the highest rate of female suicide in the world, with a higher rate in less well-educated rural backgrounds. I cannot imagine living in a country where my status would be low simply because I was born a female.

At least women in China no longer acquire status by the custom of foot binding from the 1300s when as many as 4.5 billion Chinese women were subjected to this painful art. Chinese women were tortured from the age of four in the process of making their feet smaller and then kept captive for life afterward in their own homes because they could not walk. I don’t know which is more disturbing, the painful binding of women’s feet to prove their wealth and status or the gendercide of women that is currently practiced in China.

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4 Responses to “China faces population imbalance crisis”

  1. whitishrabbit Says:

    You’re right, incredibly disturbing, my stomach turned. I wonder though, if there is such a shortage of women, won’t the values of the culture be sort of forced to change? As a rare and precious commodity in modern China, surely women’s value in the society will increase dramatically.

  2. Women’s value in China might not be as low as you’d think. In most urban areas women receive equale rights as men in basics such as education and health (in fact I’ve noticed no difference having lived in both China and Australia). It is in the workplace and government that women has a disadvantage. But that is also the case for even the most developed nations. In rural areas however, especially when the condition is harsh female children are not valued due to the notion that they will never bring wealth into the family due to two reasons: 1. That they are not as physically able to work in the family fields (farm) that keep the family alive. 2. They will one day get married and move off to their husbands family. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as retirement for most rural Chinese. It is up to their children to keep them alive after they are no longer able to work. So most would decide to have a male child instead of a female one since he won’t marry off and hence be able to support the parents in old age. This might all sound too materialistic for a lot of people, but you really have to look at the conditions some rural Chinese live in to understand. Sometimes having a son instead of a daughter can ensure and secure the living of more than one generation and more than one family. So I don’t think an decrease in the number of females is going to make them want to have female children more than male ones, as the problem lies more in their economic conditions. When they know they will be able to live comfortably in old age and when they have enough now to support themselves and their children perhaps they will value female children more.

  3. Thank you for the insights, Kat. Your comment about why rural Chinese want a male child puts this in a different light.

  4. […] like China’s. China has had severe population controls for years. Jane Macartney in Beijing Times Online, MSNBC, the Huffington Post, and others report an unintended consequence of their population […]

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