China’s Coercive One-Child Policy Leaves Shortage of Wives

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 18, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

China’s Coercive One-Child Policy Leaves Shortage of Wives

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
May 18, 2004

Beijing, China ( — China’s rigid one-child policy is leaving an unexpected legacy — a nationwide wife shortage. Chinese news media are reporting that the country now faces a "major threat" from a demographic imbalance which will leave millions of men without wives.

The one-child policy, which has been decried as a major human rights violation by activist groups throughout the world, has triggered the twin tragedies of female infanticide and abortion.

According to the Xinhua news agency, China now has about 117 boys for every 100 girls, with nearly 13 million more boys than girls under the age of nine.

By the year 2020, China could have some 40 million men who cannot find wives—a disturbing development which could have devastating implications for Chinese society for generations to come.

"Such serious gender disproportion poses a major threat to the healthy, harmonious and sustainable growth of the nation’s population and would trigger such crimes and social problems as mercenary marriage, abduction of women and prostitution," Li Weixiong, deputy chairman of the family planning committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said in published reports.

Meanwhile, Xinhua reported that the minister in charge of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, Zhan Weiqing, is calling for "resolute measures" to attack the imbalance.

Given the fact that they are only permitted to have one child, a number of couples abort or kill infant girls in the hope of having a boy later. Boys are prized because they can carry on the family name and provide for their parents in their old age.

Since the 1980s, China has been following a one-child-per-couple policy in order to stop the growth of its population, which now numbers 1.3 billion.

Chinese authorities claim that the policy helps to preserve farmland and other natural resources. But critics say it’s a draconian policy which jeopardizes China’s future productivity and decimates Chinese families.

In some cases, divorced people who remarry are allowed a second child, but, for most Chinese citizens, the single-birth rule remains in force.

Publicly, the government has attempted to dissuade couples from killing baby girls by publicizing penalties for infanticide. Government officials have also banned the use of ultrasound to determine the sex of an unborn baby.

As a result of the one-child policy, China has recorded 300 million fewer births over the last decade.

But the Chinese population is now rapidly aging, meaning that there are fewer young people around to support their elders.

By the middle of the century, one-fourth of China’s population will be age 65 and older.

The aging problem is particularly severe in rural areas, posing a threat to social security and health insurance for the elderly.

Congress and the Bush Administration have taken a firm stance against China’s coercive family planning programs.

It is illegal for U.S. tax dollars to be used to fund family planning programs that involve coercion.

In February, Congress reallocated $56 million earmarked for the UN Population Fund to other programs, citing concerns about the fund’s support for China’s forced abortions policy.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) has said that since 1979, the UN fund has been the chief apologist for China’s one-child-per-couple policy.

"Despite numerous credible forced abortion reports from impeccable sources, including human rights organizations, journalists, former Chinese population control officials and, above all, from the women victims themselves, officials at the UNFPA always found a way to explain it all away," Smith said.

In addition, Douglas Johnson, Legislative Director of the National Right to Life Committee, has said, "Any agency that collaborates in China’s brutal compulsory abortion program should not receive U.S. taxpayer funds."

And the UNFPA has made little effort to halt China’s exploitative family planning programs, according to pro-life organizations.

"UNFPA has made no discernible efforts to convince China to eliminate its one-child policy," Douglas A. Sylvia of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute told earlier this year. The organization, also known as C-FAM, lobbies against the international pro-abortion movement.

"In fact, UNFPA personnel are consistently on record as supporting it," Sylvia added.

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