March 9, 2006


The Geopolitics of Sexual Frustration: Asia has too many boys. They can’t find wives, but they just might find extreme nationalism instead. It’s a dangerous imbalance for a region already on edge. (Martin Walker, March/April 2006, Foreign Policy)

Thanks in large part to the introduction of the ultrasound machine, Mother Nature’s usual preference for about 105 males to 100 females has grown to around 120 male births for every 100 female births in China. The imbalance is even higher in some locales—136 males to 100 females on the island of Hainan, an increasingly prosperous tourist resort, and 135 males to 100 females in central China’s Hubei Province. Similar patterns can be found in Taiwan, with 119 boys to 100 girls; Singapore, 118 boys to 100 girls; South Korea, 112 boys to 100 girls; and parts of India, 120 boys to 100 girls. [...]

Many of the excess boys will be poor and rootless, a lumpenproletariat without the consolations of sexual partners and family. Prostitution, sex tourism, and homosexuality may ease their immediate urges, but Asian societies are witnessing far more dramatic solutions. Women now risk being kidnapped and forced not only into prostitution but wedlock. Chinese police statistics recorded 65,236 arrests for female trafficking in 1990–91 alone. Updated numbers are hard to come by, but it’s apparent that the problem remains severe. In September 2002, a Guangxi farmer was executed for abducting and selling more than 100 women for $120 to $360 each. Mass sexual frustration is thus adding a potent ingredient to an increasingly volatile regional cocktail of problems that include surging economic growth, urbanization, drug abuse, and environmental degradation.

Understanding the effect of the testosterone overload may be most important in China, the rising Asian superpower. Prompted by expert warnings, the Chinese authorities are already groping for answers. In 2004, President Hu Jintao asked 250 of the country’s senior demographers to study whether the country’s one-child policy—which sharply accentuates the preference for males—should be revised. Beijing expects that it may have as many as 40 million frustrated bachelors by 2020. The regime, always nervous about social control, fears that they might generate social and political instability.

Brigham Young University political scientist Valerie Hudson—the leading scholar on the phenomenon of male overpopulation in Asia—sees historical evidence for these concerns. In 19th-century northern China, drought, famine, and locust invasions apparently provoked a rash of female infanticide. According to Hudson, the region reached a ratio of 129 men to every 100 women. Roving young men organized themselves into bandit gangs, built forts, and eventually came to rule an area of some 6 million people in what was known as the Nien Rebellion. No modern-day rebellion appears to be on the horizon, but China watchers are already seeing signs of growing criminality.

The state’s response to crime and social unrest could prove to be a defining factor for China’s political future. The CIA asked Hudson to discuss her dramatic suggestion that “in 2020 it may seem to China that it would be worth it to have a very bloody battle in which a lot of their young men could die in some glorious cause.”

In case you were wondering why it's in our interest for India to be a nuclear power superior to China.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 9, 2006 6:30 PM

"Women now risk being kidnapped and forced not only into prostitution but wedlock."
I had someone (an extremely liberal someone) try to convince me recently that the lopsided male-female ratio in China would cause women to be "revered." Somehow, I just don't see that happening.

Posted by: Bryan at March 9, 2006 7:25 PM

"Thanks in large part to the introduction of the ultrasound machine, Mother Natures usual preference for about 105 males to 100 females has grown to around 120 male births for every 100 female births in China."

Hmm. That's some interesting ultrasound technology they have in China, that can somehow imbalance the gender ratio so much. Methinks the "thanks in large part" should refer to a word that starts with 'a', no?

Posted by: b at March 9, 2006 7:32 PM

The ratio in India isn't any better.

Posted by: Steve at March 9, 2006 7:39 PM

More shocking, mind-numbing stupidity.

Here we see repeated the totally obsolete idea that mere numbers confer military advantage.

On the contrary, numbers are a disadvantage. Numbers must supplied, fed, transported. Even the removal of their waste necessitates a logistic establishment which is a target for modern technology.

Bring on billions: we will kill them all.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 9, 2006 8:22 PM

Back when I was stationed in Korea (mid '80's) it was illegal for a doctor to tell prospective parents the sex of their unborn child. The reason was that females were much more likely to be aborted.

Likewise, most children in Korean orphanges at the time were girls. Generally the only boys you'd find there had birth defects.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at March 9, 2006 8:25 PM

"Abortion is the greatest destroyer of peace because if a mother can kill her own child, what is left for me to kill you, and you to kill me? There is nothing between."--Mother Theresa

Behold the "Sisterhood"--women killing women.

Posted by: Noel at March 9, 2006 8:56 PM


We will, because we have nukes. Otherwise they're an advantage.

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2006 9:03 PM

Understand Lou, not quite sure what you're driving at, OJ. Wonder though, won't these guys be more of a threat to their own society than ours? We won't have to nuke anyone who is in a civil war in China. Looks like China may be headed more toward NOK than Taiwan. But it is nice to have a buch of Ohio class subs in the area.

Posted by: jdkelly at March 9, 2006 9:21 PM

Bunch,not buch, but one must admit they're pretty "butch".

Posted by: jdkelly at March 9, 2006 9:23 PM

We all understand that the "media" will always portray Chinese (and other) societal frustration as a Western-oriented, Western-based problem. As in - emulation of American materialism, loss of cultural purity, response to American diplomatic bungling, etc. and so on, ad nauseum. No matter the facts.

And you can bet this will be the flavor of a lot of pre-Olympic reporting. Watch how NBC tailors the "cultural" aspect of its coverage in 2008.

Even their mess regarding the environment will be blamed on 'America', somehow.

India might be different, but only because they are moving towards the US. There are reasons for the left to fear China, so the first response will be appeasement and twitchy self-loathing. The media seem to treat India with disinterest first, and a bit of disgust second.

I have almost never seen a reasonable exploration of demographics addressed in the 'mainstream' media, and most of what I know about it, I learned here (or was at least pointed in the right direction). Heck, the media can't even get the facts straight with Social Security and Medicare, and they're numerically easy to find and appreciate. Why should they have any clarity with what is happening in Europe, China, and India?

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 9, 2006 10:57 PM

These are only children. It's an army of Private Ryans. Their parents won't stand for them risking their lives.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at March 9, 2006 11:27 PM


Having 40 million guys you'd just as soon have killed in combat will win most wars.

Posted by: oj at March 9, 2006 11:30 PM

"Thanks in large part to the introduction of the ultrasound machine"

Funny, I thought it was because of China's brutal one child policy coupled with their backward tradition of women abandoning their parents to care for their in-laws.

Posted by: sharon at March 10, 2006 6:23 AM


The elderly will be begging the government to kill the young before the young kill them.

Posted by: oj at March 10, 2006 7:37 AM