Leftovers of the World's Most Populous Nation

Image: Stephen Voss Photography


Listening in on the conversations of some international students from China, one thing that became clear is that all of their topics center around a few major themes; relationship, family, and status. Everything that they, their friends, and their family seem to be concerned about is meeting others expectations. How do I find a good partner? Will I get married before my thirties? Can I build a good reputation? Can I rise to prominence? The highly materialistic and success driven culture of China coupled with the oppression of the One-Child Policy has led to the rise of something unexpected. China, the world’s most populous nation, is becoming a nation of leftovers.


The term “leftovers” is being passed around a great deal lately. What exactly are leftovers? In China, leftovers are people. They are women, men, and children that have been deemed unusable and forgotten by society. They are people who are unable to meet the requirements of their culture. They are babies left behind by their parents who leave them to pursue other things.


The most recognizable term is probably “leftover women.” A leftover woman is a derogatory name used by Chinese government and media to classify women who remain unmarried into their late twenties and beyond. The fact of the matter is that these women may be highly educated and have successful careers but in the eyes of their families and their society they have nothing.


In an article written by the All-China Women's Federation, a government organization that is supposed to be defending women's rights, the author states, "Girls with an average or ugly appearance … hope to further their education in order to increase their competitiveness. The tragedy is they don't realize that, as women age, they are worth less and less, so by the time they get their MA or PhD, they are already old, like yellowed pearls."


How can a woman find worth in herself when she is rejected by society in this way? Pressure builds from all angles of their lives to do what is “right” by the public. Oftentimes, what girls say they want in life is completely different from what they settle for. Even though many of these women furiously oppose their culture’s demands, in time, as they are hounded incessantly by family, friends and media, their resolve crumbles. Needlesstosay, this mindset produces an excessive amount of broken relationships, marriages, and people.


On the other end of the spectrum are “leftover men.” These are the extra men found within China’s majorly unbalanced sex ratio. A combination of the culture’s preference for male children, the country’s implementation of the One-Child Policy, and the peoples’ flagrant use of sex-selective abortion has created this phenomenon of excess men.


The One-Child Policy was put in place on September 25th, 1980, and it was only supposed to last for thirty years. Now, more than thirty years later, though the policy has seen some relaxations and changes, it is set to continue indefinitely. Since the One-Child Policy was introduced, approximately 20 million more men than women have been born, or 120 males to 100 females born, and by 2020, China is expected to have 24 million more men than women.


These leftover men, like the leftover women, are unable to find partners. They feel useless because they are not creating families. Because of their culture, these men feel that their main purpose is to carry on their family's’ name, but with no wives there are no babies. This also means that there are some men who have no chance of having a wife or a family without resorting to illegal trafficking of women in China and from its surrounding countries, something that is already happening.


There is another group of leftovers that take on a different form and originate from different circumstances. The “left-behind” children are children from rural areas that have been left under the care of relatives, mainly grandparents, or by themselves, by their parents who have migrated to cities for work. Some of these children never even get the slightest chance to know their parents enough to miss them. They grow up without knowing the love of a mother and father.


The people these children are left with oftentimes do not have the physical or monetary means to take care of themselves let alone an extra child. This inability to properly care for the child leads to some developmental issues, increased vulnerability to becoming a victim of human trafficking, increased chances of becoming involved in criminal activities, or increased chances of depression which often leads to suicide.


With a broken society like this, where woman, man, and child all suffer constantly from judgmental attacks on their existence, how can we expect anything to change for the better? It is time to let go of the old ways and start towards a path of healing the nation. No person is ever too far gone from being saved, and the same should go for a country. China can and will be healed from it generations and generations of cultural scars.


God will not let this nation go. He fights for it every single day just as he fights for all of our lives. Pray for a revival within the land. Pray for restoration of the brokenhearted. Pray that people may find God and rejoice even in their darkest times. Pray for China to see an end, so that it may have a beginning.


2 The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give.


3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.


4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married.


5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”

- Isaiah 62:4-5


By Stacey, All Girls Allowed


All Girls Allowed (http://www.allgirlsallowed.org) was founded by Chai Ling in 2010 with a mission to display the love of Jesus by restoring life, value and dignity to girls and mothers in China and revealing the injustice of the One-Child Policy.  “In Jesus’ Name, Simply Love Her.”

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