China’s “bare branches” – One child policy leaves surplus of bachelors

Finding love is no easy task, but spare a thought for men in China these days.

Millions of them will never know the joys of matrimony because after decades of the government’s “one child policy” – and the selective abortion of girls.

They’re called ‘bare branches’ — trees without leaves, for whom love and fatherhood is just a dream.

“I’m feeling a lot of pressure from family and friends,” says 31-year-old Meng Xiang Hong. “Getting married and having a baby are things to work on now.”

He’s a kind young man with an average job in Beijing.

He’s had a few girlfriends, but one shot at marriage fell apart with her family’s demand that he own an apartment, and pay them a few thousand dollars.

Story continues below advertisement

Men Meng’s age are facing a cruel twist of demographics.

Thirty years of China’s “one child policy,” combined with a preference for boys, means that by some accounts there are 120 young men, for every 100 young women.

That amounts to more than 40 million young bachelors with less than stellar prospects.

And, that has allowed women and their families to be extra choosy, demanding big payouts and apartments in China’s expensive cities.

That sentiment was recently expressed on a popular dating show, where a young woman famously declared “I’d rather be crying in a BMW, than laughing on a bicycle.”

With the deck stacked against so many of them, why don’t these young men just enjoy the benefits of bachelorhood?

The answer is that, in the Confucian society, respect for parents is paramount and what parents want is grandchildren.

Meng says an uncle has already threatened to cut off contact until he finds a wife.

Some desperate mothers have even been known to canvass parks and neighbourhoods for single women –anything to avoid the stigma of their sons being labelled a “bare branches.”