China Daily has cheerfully announced the economic gains expected through the implementation of its new two-child policy: an increased labor force and GDP, as well as a reduction in the percentage share of elderly people. Official publications, however, have not asserted that the new two-child policy will balance the other great demographic disaster caused by the former one-child policy: the gender disparity between male and female.
The new two-child policy will do little or nothing to improve the intractable gender imbalance caused by the one child policy. First, what about the tens of millions of men who currently cannot find wives? Girls born now will not be marriage age for decades. Second, raising children in China is expensive, and many couples are caring for both sets of elderly parents as well. Those whose first child is a son may choose not to have a second child. Those whose first child is a daughter may choose to have a second child, but many will abort if that second child is also a daughter. Second daughters are extremely vulnerable to gendercide in China. This will not change under the two-child policy.
Shortly before China announced its move to a two-child policy, Chinese economist Professor Xie Zuoshi of Shejiang University, offered a controversial solution to China’s gender imbalance. Xie estimated that by the year 2020, there will be 40 million more males than females. These males, whom he terms “guanggun” or “bare branches,” will never be able to find wives or have children. Xie sees this as an economic problem with an economic solution: Allow men to share wives.
Professor Xie’s proposal ignited such a firestorm of criticism on the Chinese Internet that he has removed his original blog post, complaining that he has been “endlessly abused” for what he sees as an obvious solution to an intractable problem. His original post has nevertheless been widely quoted in the media.
With so many guanggun, women are in short supply and their value increases. But that doesn’t mean the market can’t be adjusted. The guanggun problem is actually a problem of income. High-income men can find a woman because they can pay a higher price. What about low-income men? One solution is to have several take a wife together.
Professor Xie’s proposal is an outrage and underscores the fact that the largest social experiment in the history of the world – the One Child Policy – has resulted in an unmitigated demographic and social disaster. Xie’s proposal ignores the fact that the reason there are 30 to 40 million more males living in China than females is that the females were selectively aborted – the ultimate form of discrimination against women. Now, Xie offers a ham-handed supply and demand analysis, with women as the ‘goods.’ The women who survived this ongoing gendercide epidemic are expected to be wives to ‘several’ men. The misogyny expressed in the selective abortion of baby girls would then lead to the commodification of women as wives of several men. The impetus driving this proposal is concern for the needs of men, without any concern for the rights or feelings of women.
The bizarre nature of Xie’s proposal – about which Xie insists he is “not joking” — underscores the urgency of addressing China’s intractable gender imbalance — the greatest of any nation in the world, because of the unique pressure of the One Child Policy. Gendercide will not subside in China under the new two-child policy. The Chinese government must abandon all coercively enforced birth limits. Further, Women’s Rights Without Frontiers calls upon the Chinese government to enforce its ban on sex-selective abortion.
Through our “Save a Girl” Campaign, a fieldworker will appear at the door of a woman who is pregnant or who has just given birth, and is being pressured to abort or abandon her daughter, just because she is a girl. We extend encouragement and practical help, offering a monthly stipend for a year to empower women to keep their daughters. We have saved almost 200 girls and are ending gendercide, one baby girl at a time.