“By 2020, the number of Chinese males of marriageable age may exceed the number of Chinese females of marriageable age by 30 to 40 million,” says the 2011 report from the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, a group headed by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.).
China’s “one-child” policy, implemented in 1979, is directly to blame: “In response to government-imposed birth limits and in keeping with a traditional cultural bias for sons, some Chinese parents choose to engage in sex-selective abortion, especially rural couples whose first child is a girl,” the report says.
China implemented a ban on sex-selective abortions in 2003, but according to Rep. Smith, the practice remains widespread: “The proof of it is the missing girls,” Smith told a Capitol Hill news conference on Wednesday.
The report points to United Nations population statistics showing that in 2010, China’s male-to-female sex-ratio at birth was the highest in the world, at 120 boys for every 100 girls. In August 2011, Chinese state media quoted a Chinese health official as saying that the sex imbalance is increasing.
The report says the consequences of China’s one-child policy are vast and far-reaching. The scarcity of women will increase their “value” as well as their vulnerability, boosting demand for prostitution, for example, as well as an upsurge in the kidnapping and the trafficking of women and girls.
Rep. Smith echoed this concern: “There’s been a huge spike in trafficking—in large measure, because of the dearth of girls. We are going to see an ever increasing trafficking problem, directly related to a government policy of systematically exterminating the girl-child population since 1979.”
The report also links China’s “surplus males” to forced marriages and commercial exploitation.
The population imbalance also has security implications: “Some social and political scientists argue that large numbers of ‘surplus males’ could create social conditions that the Chinese government may choose to address by expanding military enlistments.”
Beyond the skewed male-female ratio, China’s one child policy – with its forced abortions and sterilizations -- is taking an emotional toll on women. A congressional statement accompanying the report noted that approximately 500 women committed suicide each day in China in 2009.
“The Nuremberg Nazi war crimes tribunal properly construed forced abortion as a crime against humanity—nothing in human history compares to the magnitude of China’s 31 year assault on women and children,” the statement said.