Driving through a forrest of palm trees in the center of Hispanola, Rich and I started arguing about the rise of China. Rich’s points were strong and supported, as usual. China is a economic powerhouse. This year they will have the 2nd largest GDP in the world and by 2050 they will have the largest. Their authoritarian system is a benefit as it allows them to move quickly and decisively as a country. I, on the other hand, have never been sold on the rising Dragon. I think China is headed for troubled waters and in arguing with Rich I made one point that really stuck:
50 million unmarried men!
Both Rich and I are avid fans of The Economist, and the day we returned from the Caribbean we discovered our knowledge source running a cover story that described the situation far worse than I had argued:
What happened to 100 million baby girls?
Here’s a section from the article:
“XINRAN XUE, a Chinese writer, describes visiting a peasant family in the Yimeng area of Shandong province. The wife was giving birth. “We had scarcely sat down in the kitchen”, she writes , “when we heard a moan of pain from the bedroom next door…The cries from the inner room grew louder—and abruptly stopped. There was a low sob, and then a man’s gruff voice said accusingly: ‘Useless thing!’
“Suddenly, I thought I heard a slight movement in the slops pail behind me,” Miss Xinran remembers. “To my absolute horror, I saw a tiny foot poking out of the pail. The midwife must have dropped that tiny baby alive into the slops pail! I nearly threw myself at it, but the two policemen [who had accompanied me] held my shoulders in a firm grip. ‘Don’t move, you can’t save it, it’s too late.’
‘But that’s…murder…and you’re the police!’ The little foot was still now. The policemen held on to me for a few more minutes. ‘Doing a baby girl is not a big thing around here,’ [an] older woman said comfortingly. ‘That’s a living child,’ I said in a shaking voice, pointing at the slops pail. ‘It’s not a child,’ she corrected me. ‘It’s a girl baby, and we can’t keep it. Around these parts, you can’t get by without a son. Girl babies don’t count.’”
The situation is not always like this. In many cases the baby is not born at all. The Chinese and Indian preference to have a son has combined with ultrasound technology to make sex-selective abortions very common. But whether it be the slaughter of a baby girl after birth or the abortion of a girl in the first trimester it is repulsive. 100 million baby girls have been murdered for the past twenty years.
Beyond my repulsion there is a far larger concern for Chinese society. Over the next two decades 50 million men will get married and have families in the US. In China and India two times as many will not be able to get married, have sex and have a family at all! The unmarried, unfamilied, unsexed man is a dangerous, dangerous thing. Put 100 million of them together in a developing nation, living under an authoritarian regime and you have written a prescription for chaos.