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David Hines [userpic]

Interesting stuff on China

December 18th, 2006 (04:02 am)
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webpetals posted some pictures of her trip to China recently, and got me thinking about the future of that country. via BoingBoing, I recently read a fascinating piece on China by a guy looking to get some manufacturing work done there.

What is shocking is what China really is. China is all at once communist, capitalist, rude, and innocent. It’s the fearsome global economic powerhouse, yet shockingly third-world. It’s a people denied religion, yet cities festooned with Christmas decorations. Communism is essentially gone, and in its place has grown the most terrifyingly capitalistic place on Earth: I think they took Deng Xiaoping to the heart when he declared that “to become rich is glorious.”

His notes on morality and the one-child policy are particularly interesting. In the author's view, the enforced absence of religion in Communist China led to the family becoming the sole arbiter of morality. He argues that the one-child policy has done a lot to undermine that remaining moral guardpost, leading to moral standards in China becoming far more fluid. He also notes that the one-child policy means that China has a lot of potential military men.

According to the CIA world factbook, China has an excess of 44 million males in the age range of 0-64 years old; 17 million of them are in ages 0-14 alone. This is thanks to the one child per family policy, which is still in place. The ramifications of this are pretty astounding. 10 million military-aged men without spouses means 10 million men who have no obligations to a family or a loved one. Combined with the indoctrination of life being cheap, I suppose China has a pretty significant base of effective military mass to throw into a ground war.

This is pretty noteworthy, I think. In the recent era, China has made major use of massive manpower -- remember the Korean War, where they sent often untrained soldiers to die in droves? -- but excess numbers of young men often lead to dreams of Empire. That's what fueled the British Empire at its height, and what has led Iran to start feeling its oats. China will definitely start making major plays. The flip side of this is that 10 million military-aged men without spouses means 20 million parents who only have one child, and thus will be more affected by that child's loss in battle. You have five, six kids, the loss of one isn't easy -- but you haven't lost *everything.* That might affect how the Chinese people react to heavy battle losses. Though the government-controlled media will certainly minimize the effect of protests. Of course, now there's the (heavily-censored) internet...

Ah, well. Interesting times!