In 1979, the Chinese government imposed the one child policy to control China’s burgeoning population. Under the policy each couple would be allowed one child only.
The program involved contraceptives, forced sterilization, and even forced abortion up to the ninth month of gestation.
The policy, before it was recently abolished, caused several social problems, not the least of which was an imbalance between men and women in the Chinese population.
The Chinese have a cultural bias toward having male children rather than females.
When they were allowed only one child, the preference was to have boys, with couples going to the extreme of having sex selection abortions and even committing infanticide in certain cases.
The number of excess males in China is unknown, but best estimates number them in the tens of millions.
These are healthy Chinese who, in the ordinary course of things, will not be able to get married.
The New York Post reports that one solution that some Chinese men are resorting to is looking abroad for brides.
The effort in turn has started a bride trafficking industry in young Christian girls from Pakistan.
“Brokers are aggressively seeking out girls for Chinese men, sometimes even cruising outside churches to ask for potential brides. They are being helped by Christian clerics paid to target impoverished parents in their congregation with promises of wealth in exchange for their daughters.”
“Parents receive several thousand dollars and are told that their new sons-in-law are wealthy Christian converts.
The grooms turn out to be neither, according to several brides, their parents, an activist, pastors and government officials, all of whom spoke to The Associated Press. “Once in China, the girls — most often married against their will — can find themselves isolated in remote rural regions, vulnerable to abuse, unable to communicate and reliant on a translation app even for a glass of water.”
Pakistan is just the latest country that has been targeted by marriage traffickers.
Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and North Korea have also been used as sources of these bought and paid for brides, some of them quite young.
Pakistani Christians are especially vulnerable.
They live in remote, impoverished regions and are surrounded by increasingly hostile Muslim neighbors.
The promise of a better life in a far away country can be appealing, until the promise proves to be wide of the reality.
Part of the scheme involves giving the Chinese grooms in question false documents, designating them as either Christian or Muslim.
The prospective brides’ families are offered thousands of dollars in exchange for their daughters.
Poor families get money, the young women get the promise of a better life with a Chinese Christian husband, seemingly a win/win situation.
While Pakistani authorities are trying to crack down on the bride trafficking industry, Pakistan cannot pursue the matter with too much vigor.
China is an ally of Pakistan and is heavily investing in that country’s infrastructure. Besides, Pakistani Muslims do not harbor a great deal of sympathy toward Christians.
China is turning a blind eye to the bride trafficking industry, though government officials deny it. Getting brides from foreign countries is too easy a way to deal with the effects of the one child policy.
The bride trafficking situation serves as a warning against ill-considered social policy.
Government directives in China are not subject to free and open debate as it is in western countries.
While China is communist only in name, it is still ruled by a totalitarian government that does not tolerate opposition. Beijing commands and the people must obey.
However, the result is that policy is nor vetted for its unintended consequences.
Otherwise the gender imbalance caused by the one child policy would have been anticipated and, presumably, dealt with.
As it is, the Chinese are scrambling to adapt to those effects. However, the practice of bride trafficking has caused another unintended side effect.
Chinese society is governed by the ideas taught by Confucius that both private and public behavior should be governed by virtue.
By engaging in and tolerating bride trafficking, the Chinese are being seen as behaving in an unvirtuous manner.
They lose face throughout the world, sullying their reputations, a terrible thing in Chinese culture.