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An “army of bachelors”?- China’s male population as a world threat

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Author(s): Kaz Ross

Journal: Journal of Asia Pacific Studies
ISSN 1948-0091

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 338;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: China | Population | Marriage | Public Policy

ABSTRACT
The recent formation of the field of security demographics hasdrawn attention to the importance of population as a security issue. For example, Hudson and den Boer argue that the populations of Asia’slargest countries are a threat not because of size but because of asunusual composition – excess males. Their argument is based on theobservation that, after thirty years of population limitation policies, the Chinese population has a distinct gender bias. There are millions more males than females, creating what has been dubbed a ‘bachelor army.’ Hudson and den Boer posit that the problems caused by this ‘bachelor army’ may lead to war. This paper argues that fear about China’s population is not new but has shaped the way China has been portrayed since the foundation of the PRC. The large size of the Chinese population was originally seen as a weakness likely to bring down the government. However during the 1950s and 60s the industrious and organized nature of the Chinese population earned the Chinese people the moniker ‘blue ants.’ It seems more than coincidental that the development of recent fearsabout China’s population coincides with the emergence of China as amajor economic power. After analyzing the development of the genderratio imbalance, this paper concludes that the re-surfacing of fear about China’s male population continues a tradition of Orientalist stereotypes.
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