Gideon's Blog

In direct contravention of my wife's explicit instructions, herewith I inaugurate my first blog. Long may it prosper.

For some reason, I think I have something to say to you. You think you have something to say to me? Email me at: gideonsblogger -at- yahoo -dot- com

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Monday, July 22, 2002
Good piece from veteran China hawk John Derbyshire on the Chinese military threat. Short synopsis: it's bad, and getting worse. They are nationalistic, united and building furiously to challenge the American presence in the western Pacific, particularly but not exclusively over Taiwan. They will be a much more formidable adversary than the Taliban, and America will stand entirely alone against them; no European nor Asian power will have an interest in fighting China for other than their direct self-defense. The only good news Derb can come up with is: their economy is being crushed by debt and they are not producing enough children. But economic collapse has often been a spur to military adventure, and the demographic collapse of China has been accompanied by a burgeoning surplus of males. According to the CIA factbook, China has 15 million more males than females aged 0 to 14 years. That's a big army when it comes of age. Not such happy demographic news after all.

Just in case you were wondering, that disparity is an anomaly. Here's a rundown of other major countries, the percentage of children aged 0 to 14 that are "surplus" males - meaning, if these males didn't exist, the sex ratio in that age group would be 1:1 - and the absolute number of "surplus" males. Only South Korea has more percentagewise and only India comes close numerically. I do think this has significant implications for present and future Chinese belligerency.

These are listed in descending order of percentage of surplus males:

South Korea - 5.90% surplus - 0.61 million surplus
China - 4.76% surplus - 15.16 million surplus
Vietnam - 3.32% surplus - 0.85 million surplus
Pakistan - 2.97% surplus - 1.74 million surplus
India - 2.96% surplus - 10.09 million surplus
Germany - 2.67% surplus - 0.35 million surplus
United Kingdom - 2.59% surplus - 0.29 million surplus
Japan - 2.52% surplus - 0.47 million surplus
North Korea - 2.50% surplus - 0.14 million surplus
Poland - 2.48% surplus - 0.18 million surplus
France - 2.44% surplus - 0.27 million surplus
Egypt - 2.39% surplus - 0.58 million surplus
USA - 2.31% surplus - 1.35 million surplus
Iran - 2.27% surplus - 0.50 million surplus
Russia - 2.01% surplus - 0.51 million surplus
Mexico - 1.99% surplus - 0.68 million surplus
Saudi Arabia - 1.94% surplus - 0.19 million surplus
Turkey - 1.82% surplus - 0.34 million surplus
Philippines - 1.80% surplus - 0.55 million surplus
Indonesia - 1.69% surplus - 1.17 million surplus
Iraq - 1.57% surplus - 0.15 million surplus
South Africa - 0.68% surplus - 0.10 million surplus
Nigeria - 0.59% surplus - 0.33 million surplus

The normal excess of males in this age bracket appears to be in the 2.5% area, so China has twice as many surplus males as it should. Obviously, over time this surplus declines and eventually flips to become a surplus of females, owing to greater female longevity. But in the meantime, there will be a lot of unattached men of army age looking for something to occupy their time.