' “Suddenly, I thought I heard a slight movement in the slops pail behind me,” Miss Xinran remembers.“To my absolute horror, I saw a tiny foot poking out of the pail.‘That's a living child,' I said in a shaking voice, pointing at the slops pail. Girl babies don't count.'” In January 2010 the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) showed what can happen to a country when girl babies don't count.Within ten years, the academy said, one in five young men would be unable to find a bride because of the dearth of young women—a figure unprecedented in a country at peace.For comparison, there are 23m boys below the age of 20 in Germany, France and Britain combined and around 40m American boys and young men.So within ten years, China faces the prospect of having the equivalent of the whole young male population of America, or almost twice that of Europe's three largest countries, with little prospect of marriage, untethered to a home of their own and without the stake in society that marriage and children provide.
XINRAN XUE, a Chinese writer, describes visiting a peasant family in the Yimeng area of Shandong province. “We had scarcely sat down in the kitchen”, she writes (see article), “when we heard a moan of pain from the bedroom next door…The cries from the inner room grew louder—and abruptly stopped.There was a low sob, and then a man's gruff voice said accusingly: ‘Useless thing!