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

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Ross, K (2010) An “army of bachelors”? China’s male population as a world threat. Journal of Asia Pacific Studies, 1 (2). pp. 338-363. ISSN 1948-0091

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Abstract

The recent formation of the field of security demographics has drawn attention to the importance of population as a security issue. For example, Hudson and den Boer argue that the populations of Asia’s largest countries are a threat not because of size but because of as unusual composition – excess males. Their argument is based on the observation 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 fears about China’s population coincides with the emergence of China as a major economic power. After analyzing the development of the gender ratio imbalance, this paper concludes that the re-surfacing of fear about China’s male population continues a tradition of Orientalist stereotypes.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: China, Population, Marriage, Public Policy
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Asia Pacific Studies
Page Range: pp. 338-363
ISSN: 1948-0091
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2010 05:01
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:11
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/9951
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