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The second biggest issue of the 21st century

The Chinese state media agency Xinhua has admitted that China gender imbalance is growing deeper:

A report released here Thursday said there will be 30 million more males of marriageable age in China than females by the year 2020, which will make it difficult for men to find wives.

The report, issued by the State Population and Family Planning Commission, said China's sex ratio for newborn babies in 2005 was 118 boys to 100 girls, compared with 110:100 in 2000. In some regions, the sex ratio has reached 130:100.

The Chinese Communist government has decided this is a bad thing, but that their brutal family planning policies had nothing to do with it.
The report predicted that in the year 2020, Chinese men of marriageable age will find it difficult to find wives, especially those with low income or little education. This will create social instability.

Liu said the sex ratio imbalance was not connected to China's family planning policy. "It is more a result of the deep-rooted notion in Chinese culture that men are superior to women," she said.

It's hard to imagine what China will be like when there are four men to every three women. I'm very pro-woman myself; I believe that those of the female gender contribute much more to the 'glue' that binds civilization together. Single men are capable of all kinds of trouble -- especially in groups -- but when matched with women they become contributing members of society. Without women, these unmatched Chinese men will be attracted to gangs or aggressive political movements.

I'm also of the opinion that the booming Chinese economy is due to throw a piston in the next five years. Too much of the business of the country is driven by state-managed industry and financing, and not enough by real demand. It will run into trouble for the same reasons that Japan's government-managed economy fell flat fifteen years ago. Will Hutton summarizes it like this:

China's economic growth is based on the state channelling vast under-priced savings into huge investment projects driven by cheap labour. Some 200m of China's 760m workforce are migrant peasants employed in factories, construction sites and offices in its new towns and cities—the biggest migration in history. The Communist party has permitted free movement of prices, encourages profit-seeking and has sharply lowered tariffs on imports and obstacles to inward investment. Its success in creating annual growth of some 9.5 per cent for a generation, lifting 400m people out of poverty, is widely acknowledged. But the party keeps firm control of ownership, wages and company strategies—and of the state. In other words, China occupies an uneasy halfway house between socialism and capitalism; its private sector, although growing, is still puny. It is a system of Leninist corporatism—and it is this that is breaking down.

The breaches in the model are all around. How much longer can China's state-owned banks carry on directing billions of dollars of savings into investments that produce tiny or even negative returns and on which interest is irregularly paid? Poor peasants' ability to create the savings needed to fuel growth is reaching its limits. And in any case, for how long can a $2 trillion economy save at more than 40 per cent of GDP? It is reaching the limit of its capacity to increase exports (which in 2007 will surpass $1 trillion) by 25 per cent a year; at this rate of growth they will reach $5 trillion by 2020 or sooner, representing more than half of today's world trade. Is that likely? Are there sufficient ships and ports to move such volumes—and will western markets stay open without real reciprocity on trade? Every year China acquires $200bn of foreign exchange reserves, mainly dollars, as it rigs its currency to keep its exports competitive. It is absurd for a poor country like China to be lending to a rich one like the US; in fact, it is unsustainable, and the financial markets seem to agree.

China would like to lower the current feverish growth rates, but the tools available in the west—raising taxes, cutting spending and lifting interest rates—are not available to China. The party dare not trigger protests by raising taxes; officials in state enterprises and provincial governments ignore orders to lower spending because their careers depend on generating growth and jobs. And raising interest rates could create a credit crunch as loans go sour.

Chinese history is remarkably consistent. China is always united under one dynasty, which grows corrupt and weak. Sparks erupt in the backwaters -- minor revolts against local rulers -- but most are snuffed out. But eventually one catches fire and starts to claim more territory until a new dynasty is founded. In this way the Ming were replaced by the Qing, who were replaced by the Kuomintang, who were replaced by the Communists. In each of those transitions, there was a huge loss of life.

With the growing gender imbalance and the teetering economy, the groundwork is definitely in place for a dynastic change. And it's not going to be pretty.

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Comments

China occupies an uneasy halfway house between socialism and capitalism;

That spot has a name - it's called fascism. Property and companies can be privately owned but must serve the dictates of the state. About all that can be said for it is it's more economically successful than communism, and fascist states sometimes successfully evolve into democracies - Spain, for example.

But I agree China will hit the wall, likely within the next decade. The demographic problem of unattached men may be offset by the overall aging of the population. I'd don't believe that demographic profile has ever existed in history, so it's hard to predict how they'll behave.

You're right. I remember making the same comparison to a pro-China friend a few years ago. I can still recall the shocked look he gave me. The 'f-word' is so loaded that I try not to use it too often because it just kills debate.

But the people that think China is embarking on a similar path to a modern society as that of Great Britain or the United States should look a little closer. Shiny new buildings and congested ports does not mean 'capitalism' as we understaand it.

You're SO right. Not getting married has wreaked havoc with both my life and that of my neighbours as well. I've been attracted to gangs and have continually been drunk and gone driving to look for old grannies and small children and pets to run over.

Mostly it was for fun at first, then I grew to love the terror I could inflict on society in general. Now I just can't get enough of it, and I can't help but wonder what my life would've been like if I had only found a woman...

For the record, you should see the roving gans of single women though. Impressive lot, them. Singing at orphanages and baking for church groups. What a shining beacon of light to the world they are. Almost a shame they should have to be troubled by marrying a gangster one day.

Thought provoking piece there Mr. Anonymous.

China is becoming an entertainment entity in it's own right.

Tune in tomorrow to see what the yellow hoards will do next! Includes a cast of hundreds of millions.

It is like watching a human ant colony gone bonkers.

"Not getting married has wreaked havoc with both my life and that of my neighbours as well. I've been attracted to gangs and have continually been drunk and gone driving to look for old grannies and small children and pets to run over."

A single anecdotal counterexample doesn't disprove the greater statistical trend. And the behaviour of a person single by choice in a favourable environment like ours (where intimacy is relatively easily available not only on a permanent but temporary basis if so desired) isn't really a good analogue to the behaviour of someone single by necessity in an unfavourable environment like China's (where intimacy on a permanent basis is highly competed for due to gender imbalance, and intimacy on a temporary basis is culturally discouraged).

Not everyone will succumb to the kind of social pressures discussed above. But some will, and the question is whether that "some" will be enough to trigger the problems foreseen.

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