BEIJING: According to reports published both in the Chinese and foreign-based media outlets, the Chinese government is considering adopting sweeping changes to its family planning policies.
For a number of decades, Beijing had enforced a one-child policy, and had taken tough measures to ensure Chinese families were not disobeying the law.
But in recent years, Chinese President Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) had opened up on a new dialogue with the public to address the disturbing population demographics that will impact China and its economy in the foreseeable future.
Since 2016, the Chinese government has relaxed restrictions and allowed couples to have two children.
The country may have a population at around 1.4 billion right now, while more Chinese are born than die in the country each year for the time being.
But with fewer babies born and more senior citizens entering the retirement stage of their lives, the world’s second-largest economy is expected to confront a demographic time bomb that could forever transform the dynamics of a great and vibrant nation.
MORE BOYS THAN GIRLS
We can analyse numbers to see how trends are developing in regards to China’s population figures. Index Mundi has posted China’s 2018 Demographics Profile.
The most shocking figure is the gender imbalance with more Chinese males than females at younger ages. For children, aged up to 14, it’s 1.17 boys at birth for every girl and it’s 1.14 males for every female for Chinese aged 15 to 24.
Beijing prides itself in governing a country that has a strong economy and stable society.
Yet when you see that many more males than females will soon become adults, who will seek jobs and look to get married in order to raise a family in the years ahead - that means tens of millions of Chinese men will struggle to find wives and start a family.
Can you just imagine being a young single man who has no clear prospects of finding love with a woman - if that’s what you wish for?
The involuntary loneliness imposed on them could cause traumatic harm to one’s psyche and destroy their self-esteem.
There’s no easy way to say this but it could also make them more prone towards violence and could spark a huge wave of sex crimes nationwide if so many single men seek to gratify their sexual desires in the unlawful but only manner they know how.
China’s gender imbalance is no longer a joking matter and Beijing has come to that conclusion as well.
If media reports are true, we can anticipate China to scrap the two-child policy by 2020, but due to the grave circumstances the country faces at the moment, the new family policy may likely come into effect even sooner than anticipated.
Many Chinese parents, who will give birth to more than one child or even two children, may no longer worry about the gender of the child.
When it comes to traditional Chinese cultural customs, grandparents often insist their child or daughter-in-law give birth to a boy, first and foremost.
If by chance they knew the sex of the baby was a girl, while the mother is still pregnant, many grandparents, especially those living in rural parts of the country, have been known to pressure mothers to have an abortion.
These sex-selected abortions have led to disastrous consequences for China’s population. The country desperately needs more girls to be born or the gender imbalance could never be resolved until a long time later.
READ: Where ‘women hold up half the sky’, some help with China’s two-child policy please, a commentary
NEW POLICY OFFERS HOPE
Wealthy Chinese males will have nothing to fear, because they can either attract wives with their fortunes or they could travel abroad to marry a non-Chinese woman.
But what about a young man who comes from a poor family in a rural and isolated village of China? How will he find a wife if he must compete against so many other single men in the surrounding area to receive the affections of a woman?
Life isn’t just about making more money or working in a good job. Human beings also hold a deep yearning for love. To live alone without choice is so unnatural for many people.
Accordingly, China scrapping the two-child policy really has become a true necessity for the nation and could offer hope to future generations of young single men hoping to find love and marriage in their lifetimes.
Tom McGregor is a commentator on Asia-Pacific affairs based in Beijing.