China's disastrous one-child policy is finally starting to kick in

If you're not familiar with Daniel Greenfield, who writes at FrontPage Magazine and at his own site, I am not exaggerating when I say you're missing one of the most astute thinkers on the internet.  Most recently, he's turned his gimlet eye on the terrible effect on China of the one-child policy, when combined with urban affluence and nascent feminism.

I've long known that China's one-child policy, which resulted in the abortion of up to 40 million female babies, was going to have far-reaching consequences.  My assumption was that women would become more valuable and be better treated, but I didn't realize that their increased value might spell the beginning of the end of the Communist Party.

Greenfield, however, suggests that the massive demographic imbalance, with men far outnumbering women, paired with a rising yuppie class that's materialistic and creates women who have no interest in marriage and children, is causing a slo-mo collapse in China.  This is true despite Xi Jinping's bluster and military expenditures.

Greenfield does a deep dive into the subject, but I'll share a few of his insights.  I strongly urge you to read his entire essay.

As was obvious all along, the absence of women means they're at a premium in the marriage market.  In rural China, only the richest men can afford a wife.

However, that's not the real problem:

But what really has the Communist elite worried is not the high price of marriage, but the growing number of professional women who aren't interested in getting married at all.

China thought it could avoid the Soviet Union's fate by avoiding liberalization, something it squelched with the Tiananmen Square massacre.  Nevertheless, it willingly opened itself to some market forces to fund the communist state.  That created materialism dangerous to any communist-based nation:

Despite the outward allegiance to Xi and the Communists, the country's rising middle class is westernized, individualistic rather than collectivist, intent on having fun and stocking up on all the latest consumer gadgets, instead of sacrificing and laboring in the cause of Communism.

Women, especially, don't want to be sacrificed to marriage or children.  The birth rate is 1.3%, leading China, a nation of over a billion people, to add only 12 million babies in 2020 — and China, unlike Western countries, isn't getting immigration to augment its declining population.

Image: A wall of China's Forbidden City in the afternoon smog by Andrea Widburg.

The government is working hard and (probably) successfully, says Greenfield, to stamp out the nascent feminist movement, but it can't stamp out the same shift in gender roles we've seen in the U.S.:

52.5 percent of students in Chinese colleges and universities are female. That's not quite as extreme as the 60/40 split in the United States or the even more extreme gender gaps in some European countries, but in a decade or two, China may catch up to us there as well.

Religion may be declining in America and Europe, but the Communists had done their best to stamp out faith in China and replace it with party loyalty. And then it replaced starving rural labor with mega-cities and mega-buildings filled with office drones who have no meaning or purpose in life beyond purchasing the latest iPhone, listening to the latest hit or watching the latest show.

There's more, so please read it all because it's all interesting.  And while you're contemplating that, think about the fact that the Chinese military may be a little more Potemkin village and a little less military than we realize.  I saw an article this morning about massive corruption in the military but can't find the link now.  However, in 2018, Michael Beckley published Unrivaled: Why America Will Remain the World's Sole Superpower.

A review sums up Beckley's message, which is that the Chinese military may be huge (and, since 2018, it added a hypersonic missile), but that still may not translate into military success.

Rather than heading in the direction of rivaling the United States, China is a rapidly aging, inefficient, conflict-ridden, and relatively poor country that simply is not on the road to seriously challenging the US's hegemony.

Even China's huge GDP is somewhat misleading because those resources are spread among over a billion people rather than 330 million.  The economy is also weak because it's a faux market economy with the government getting into debt.  And again, the book predates the possible Evergrande real estate collapse.

None of this is to say that China isn't dangerous.  A wounded or dying animal can be more dangerous than one enjoying vigorous good health.  China's weaknesses don't mean the world's out of the woods, but they are food for thought.

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