China thrown off balance as boys outnumber girls
June 21, 2002 8:21 AM   Subscribe

China thrown off balance as boys outnumber girls Poor young men here complain that modern women are too picky. ''Before, it was men choosing women,'' says Liu Xicheng, 21, a migrant worker who came to Beijing from nearby Hebei Province. ''Now it is women choosing men. Some have high quality standards. It is hard to marry them.'' I checked and this isn't from the Onion.
posted by srboisvert (20 comments total)
Classic lines:

The two researchers note that large numbers of unmarried men have shaken Chinese society before.

Historically, governments have dealt with troublesome, unmarried men by:

posted by srboisvert at 8:25 AM on June 21, 2002

stop being so picky, ladies! a lot of girls don't seem to like that i pass gas all the time, but i think it's a rather endearing quality.
posted by moz at 8:35 AM on June 21, 2002

Chinese government to tighten its grip on society or even seek military conflicts abroad to keep the restless bachelors occupied.

Whoa, it's called a Playboy... no need to start a war. I really hope that was just a reporter making an inane observation and not something the Chinese themselves suggested.
posted by geoff. at 8:48 AM on June 21, 2002

In the long run they could fix the problem by allowing only one boy per family.
posted by plaino at 9:18 AM on June 21, 2002

they could just partner up with us in the War of Terrorism.
posted by tolkhan at 9:20 AM on June 21, 2002

My first thought was, "serves them right for holding women in less esteem than men." But it really is sad. You shouldn't have to be rich and educated to marry. Poor people need marriages and happiness too.

However, in a culture that dismissed and denegrates women so openly, it is sort of nice to see. Maybe women will be a little more respected now. Now maybe they will get some more property rights and not be forced to kow-tow to men so frequently. The scary thing is the wife-abudctions, rape, and prostitution that goes up. And like China needs even more of an excuse to go to war. Yikes.

I was all for their one child law, as their population was way out of hand. If they had done "zero population growth" instead of "negative population growth," though, perhaps the problem wouldn't be so bad. The shortage of women is a bad result of this oversight.
posted by aacheson at 9:23 AM on June 21, 2002

in my understanding, the problem isn't as much 'too many boys' as it is 'too few girls'. (as I'm noticing aacheson pointed out.)

the difference being that girl babies are all too often abandoned because chinese parents have one shot at a child and they want a boy that will take care of them when they are older.

maybe this wasn't an oversight on the part of the chinese masters. 40 million men who will not be able to procreate (inside a traditional family structure, that is) should contribute nicely to negative population growth.

that's not to say it wasn't a mistake.
posted by o2b at 9:36 AM on June 21, 2002

I'm interested in the "Public works" option. I've heard that China's been building cities all over the country. My associates don't understand how such projects are paid for, but if the government owns everything it should be able to accomodate the basic needs of it's construction workers, yes? Anyone know more about how China manages this situation, or where I can go to find out? I'm no fan of communism by any means, but China is in a very complicated situation and now it appears that they're developing a potentially tremendous work force. Fascinating.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:44 AM on June 21, 2002

Poor people need marriages and happiness too.

You say that like the two aren't mutually exclusive? ;)

I see an excellent export opportunity here for the U.S. and other nations.
posted by rushmc at 9:46 AM on June 21, 2002

Kripes! A bunch of sexually frustrated male communists! We're doomed. Maybe they'll all become PIRATES!
posted by password at 10:16 AM on June 21, 2002

This has tragic consequences. What the article only mentions in passing is that many educated women from the cities, with university degrees and a life somewhat similar to ours, get kidnapped and sent to remore rural provinces. They are forced to marry brutal peasants who are known to tie them up to trees to keep them from scaping . This is widely reported in the Chinese media. In English, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post and Singapore's Straits' Times both carry these sorts of stories regularly.
posted by magullo at 10:16 AM on June 21, 2002

Whew, the "one-child" population has come of age. I remember the Chinese media "griping" that the one-child law would result in a lot of spoiled kids, pampered as "only children" by their parents and their 2 sets of grandparents with few other kids to dote on.

I suppose it would follow that now it's grown-up spoiled males looking for wives. Eeek.
posted by girlhacker at 10:27 AM on June 21, 2002

They tie them to trees? And do what? Just let them down for sex and cooking? Jesus, that's awful. Is there somewhere we can read that in English? I'm interested.
posted by aacheson at 10:47 AM on June 21, 2002

Perhaps we'll start seeing more mail-order husbands over here in the States.
posted by sheauga at 11:19 AM on June 21, 2002

It's not a happy life for rural Chinese women:

Suicide is the leading cause of death among rural women aged 15-34, accounting for almost one-third of all deaths. Their suicide rate is seven times greater than the death rate from complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth.

Article at
posted by jokeefe at 11:22 AM on June 21, 2002

From the Pirate site linked above:

7. The captain and quartermaster to receive two shares of the booty; the master gunner, and boatswain, one and a half shares; other officers one and a quarter shares; all others, one shares each.

8. Injuries to be compensated. Any man who loses a limb in battle shall receive extra booty.

I know, I know. I'm childish. But still..."extra booty." Heh.
posted by ColdChef at 11:23 AM on June 21, 2002

China is in need of a sexual revolution. I wonder how the Party is going to deal with a 60's type counterculture.

Actually, population problems are nothing new. If life in China for men is such a hardship then they can do what everyone else is similiar situations has done - emigrate. Certainly not a simple solution, but it is an option.
posted by skallas at 1:59 PM on June 21, 2002

techgno: those city or dam building projects are surprisingly similar to Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the West, like the Chunnel or Amtrak. Roughly since Deng, state enterprises must pretty much pay their own way, and there are banks and stock investors and many things otherwise familiar. Even the military supplements its budget by private investments in major companies (e.g. the Hutchison-Whampoa shipping conglomerate). I don't think it's so much that China may be building cities from the ground up as that regional governments are desperately trying to upgrade infrastructure and provide industrial parks and worker housing as vast numbers of rural poor flee poverty. So far, even with population growth slowing, they've been able to finance this themselves with the new workers providing internal markets even as exports provide an economic buffer. Eventually this is going to catch up with itself, though, and there will be a massive correction.
posted by dhartung at 2:30 PM on June 21, 2002

> China thrown off balance as boys outnumber girls

This line feels like old stories about how the world would be thrown out of balance if all the Chinese jumped at the same time.

(Which is almost the real story.)
posted by pracowity at 2:44 PM on June 21, 2002

I wonder how the Party is going to deal with a 60's type counterculture.

I'm guessing it'll involve tanks in some way....
posted by electro at 3:39 PM on June 21, 2002

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