The fluctuation in China’s one-child policy and coax couples to have more children is something that the authorities have been trying to solve for the last three years. They have made many measures to increase the birth-rate and overcome the demographic crisis of men outnumbering women that could hinder economic growth in the country in the coming decades. Couples have been told that it’s their patriotic duty to have two babies, and have promised to offer longer parental leaves and cheaper education. They have also been offered with tax breaks and housing subsidies and even made it difficult to get an abortion or a divorce, but nothing seems to have worked as expected.
After all these attempts to overcome this demographic crisis in the country, a controversial measure has come up as a solution to the surplus of bachelors in the country. Yew-Kwang Ng, A 77-year-old Malaysian economist professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, suggested in an article published on by NetEase Finance, that the crisis can be overcome by legalizing and promoting polyandry, in which women marry multiple men and they will have multiple babies. The article titled “Is polyandry a ridiculous idea?” in a weekly column written by Huang has attracted a great deal of controversy on the Chinese social media.
Huang has earlier mentioned in his previous articles in the series, that there is a severe imbalance in the sex ratio in China which is 117 men to 100 women, causing competition among men looking for wives, and millions of bachelors struggling to “have their psychological and physical needs satisfied.”
Along with the solution of allowing women to have several husbands, he also suggested another solution which is to decriminalize sex work in the country. Huang says in the article that he is not ignoring the benefits that long-term relationships make on the growth and education of kids, but that is necessary to consider allowing polyandry legally to solve the skewed sex ratio of the country. He supports his controversial argument by saying that women are capable of fulfilling the sexual desire of multiple men that the other way around.
Huang says that he wouldn’t think of polyandry at all if there weren’t any series imbalance in the male and female ratio. He tries to convince his argument by saying that polyandry existed in Tibet years ago. He says to be not promoting or encouraging polyandry, but that the authorities may perhaps consider polyandry as a solution for more men and fewer women. He expresses that many men, including him, would agree to share a wife with others than running the risk of having no wife at all.
Huang is not the first expert to come up with such controversial methods as a solution for the issues of Chinese bachelor men. In 2017, a popular scholar named Mao Shoulong regarded that the authorities should allow more foreign women to live in China, with the hope that some of them would end up marrying its ‘leftover bachelor men’. He suggests this as a convincing tactic to change the immigration policy and let more foreign women come to live and work in the country.
The imbalances in the male-female ratio in the country are caused by the mandatory one-child rule was implemented in the late 1970s. This one-child rule was launched as a solution to the country fast increasing population at that time, due to a post-war baby boom encouraged by Chairman Mao. The ruthless policy was strictly enforced in urban areas to keep the population of the country under 1.2 billion by the end of the 20th century.
Women who are pregnant with a second child would be asked to abort it and if the couple decides to have the baby, they had to pay a fine which is usually three times the family’s annual income. The one-child policy has prompted illegal baby gender selection in the country, and most Chinese parents prefer baby boys considering their ability to carry forward the family name. This has led to a severe gender gap in the country with the gender ratio between baby boys and baby girls reaching 1.3:1 at its peak.
It is estimated that by 2020, there will be around 15 million Chinese men between the ages of 35 and 59 who are not able to find a wife. This will reach nearly 20 million by 2050. Around 15 million Chinese men between the ages of 35 and 59 won’t be able to find a partner by 2020 and by 2050 the number could be nearly 30million, it is estimated. There is a concern of human-trafficking of Vietnamese women into China as many Chinese bachelors are paying high prices to marry Vietnamese women after failing to find a Chinese wife.
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