the return of chinese clans

i posted once before about how, since the 1970s/1980s, clans have returned to china with a vengeance. (i suspect that they never really went away, just went underground.) the people’s communes, established during the great leap forward, were supposed to do away with clans. for some reason, that didn’t work.

here from Rural China: Economic And Social Change In The Late Twentieth Century (pg. 258 – emphases and link added by me):

A clan may consist of up to several thousand people. It is headed by the eldest member of the clan and a group of elder men and provides its members with economic and social protection. An internal clan law regulates clan matters.

“The vacuum created by the erosion of party and administrative structures in villages is gradually filled with traditional values. In many places in south and central China, traditional clan organizations have taken over village administration, and the activities of local functionaries are often bound to clan interests. A survey of five villages in Hubei Province in the early 1990s revealed that 41.8 percent of the individuals interviewed were convinced that village functionaries merely acted in the interests of the clan; 45.9 percent thought that they were only interested in their own profit (including clan interests), and only 12.3 percent thought that the functionaries acted in the best interests of the village inhabitants. The weakening of political control has led to a revival of traditional structures (kinship relations, secret societies, clans) that locally have even started to organize themselves politically. All over China there are reports on the new power of clans and on violent and bloody clan fights concerning forests, irrigation, building lots, and borderlines of fields and lanes. In regions where clan dominate the villages, they have frequently taken over local power in the form of VACs.

“With the establishment of people’s communes in the second half of the 1950s, the traditional clan connections were supposed to be destroyed. With the disbanding of the communes and the return to family economic activities in the 1980s, the role of the family and clan in rural areas increased and the economic function of traditional family structures was revived. As long as the village residents were organized in production brigades, family and clan connections were of no great importance. It was the return to family economic activities, at first in agriculture, that made family relations essential again. Thereafter, mutual aid and support of the production process, the need for capital when starting a business or establishing an enterprise became more and more important. Individuals could not rely on fictitious collectives, but had to rely on family or clan bonds. This process of the growing importance of family groups in the economy stimulated economic dynamism.”

and from Local Government and Politics in China: Challenges from Below (pgs. 180-181 – emphases added by me):

“Finally, the revival of traditional kinship groups and clans in Chinese villages creates competition with village authorities in China. Kinship groups and clans, which were strong rural political forces in traditional China, were suppressed but were never eradicated during the Mao era and have resurfaced in the reform era. Apart from traditional kinship groups and clans, secret societies, which were common in rural China prior to the Communist era, have also sprung up since the 1990s in the Chinese countryside. A main reason for the resurgence of kinship groups, clans, and secret societies is the peasants’ need to depend on some kind of organization or association for better protection of their interests as the feel they can no longer trust the official village authorities to do so. As a matter of fact, traditional cleavage created by kinship groups and clans have played a prominent role in villagers’ committee elections in rural regions, especially poor and remote rural ones. In some places, ‘undesirable elements’ or even ‘evil forces’ (based largely upon kinship and clan support) have come to power via village elections and have coalesced into a force resistant to carrying out township/town government policies.

finally, lots of good stuff from China: The Next Superpower: Dilemmas in Change and Continuity (emphases and links added by me):

pgs. 58-59:

Clan wars continue to be waged largely out of sight and out of mind in many rural areas, some of them having their origins in events long before the Communists took power, and even from imperial days. In August 1993, for example, in Hunan Province, birthplace of Mao, thousands of villagers fought a pitched battle armed with home-made guns, grenades and explosives that left at least five people dead, 12 seriously wounded and several buildings in ruins. Security forces had to fire tear-gas into the crowd to split up the warring factions. [see footnote 27 below.]

“Inter-regional conflicts are no longer confined to the coast-versus-hinterland syndrome. Rich provinces and cities are pitted against each other even as poor areas pummel one another with stunning ferocity. The reasons are little more than money, resources, and greed. Take the scuffles over the delineation of borders between provinces. Since 1980, more than 10 bloody clashes have taken place between the cadres and residents in Guangxi and Hunan provinces. Fifteen hundred people were allegedly killed or seriously injured in quarrels over land and water rights. Equally venomous battles have been fought between villagers living on the Qinghai-Gansu border over gold-mine rights. Two special work teams sent by the Communist Party and State Council to the area failed to solve the problem….

“Inter-provincial confrontations, of course, go back several centuries. Since 1949, thousands of Chinese have died in more than 1,000 armed conflicts over the imprecise demarcation of frontiers. They have worsened owing to the eclipse of central authority. For most of the new-style ‘economic warlords’, local development bringing tangible benefits such as wealth to close relatives and business associates is more important than heeding Beijing’s call to promote national cohesiveness….

pg. 227 – footnote 27:

“The Battle of Matian Marketplace, as it has become known, was the latest chapter in a bitter clan feud between Matian villagers surnamed Liu and Jinggang villagers surnamed Li that dated back at least to the 1920s. The Canton Evening News reported that Matian and Jinggang had been at war since 1928, when a Matian landlord ‘massacred 27 innocent Jinggang villagers in the name of eradicating Communism’, launching decades of unceasing disputes of various kinds.”

pg. 123:

But when Americans and Chinese talk about ‘democracy’, they are not necessarily referring to the same animal. Democracy as it is known in the West is the product of Roman Law, the Magna Carta, the Boston Tea Party, the Fall of the Bastille, the Industrial Revolution, and the intellectual contributions of many great thinkers, such as Rousseau, Locke and Jefferson. The Chinese are coming from an entirely different tradition.

“The great virtues that the Chinese traditionally have valued so highly are tolerance, patience and non-interference in others’ affairs. There is also the strong individualism of the Chinese, which may seem a contradiction when one is taught that it is the ‘group’ not the individual that is important in China. But loyalty to the ‘group’ is still on a family or clan basis, rather than the vaguer concept of nation. Chinese do not particularly like to interfere in what they see as ‘idle affairs’. Public spirit and civic pride are difficult to grow in this type of soil, and that mitigates against the planting of democratic ideals.

“Secondly, the parental concept of government that has evolved over millennia and survives to this day means government of the people, for the people but not by the people. Essentially, the average Chinese simply wants to be left alone to get on with daily life without outside interference from *anyone*. Democracy is the play-thing of intellectuals, and China essentially is still a peasant society which traditionally has shown little interest in voting, paying income tax or helping to run the country.

pg. 127:

“One legacy of the country’s long history is that behavior is based on the rule of man, not the rule of law. A complex body of nationally-enforced law was not considered necessary in traditional society because society had built in powerful forces of self-regulation. Government intervention was rarely needed because social order could normally be maintained through the family or clan, or other associations and occupational groupings. With the whole family liable to be blamed for the wrongdoing of an individual member [reminiscent of the albanians – h.chick], this was a powerful force to keep everyone in line.

pgs. 145-146:

“The revival of ‘feudalistic clans’ which are undermining the authority of the party in the countryside are a growing concern. Clan organizations, which were supposed to have been wiped out in the 1950s, have become the centres of power in counties with low income and education levels, according to internal circulars issued by government security units. ‘Some village cadres have abolished local party committees, with the clan chiefs becoming the de facto administrators,’ one document said. ‘In other rural areas, the election of village committees is under the control of clansmen.’

“While the revival of clans began in the early 1980s, they have become larger and much better organized recently. Rural cadres complain that clan activities have siphoned off badly needed funds for agriculture and education. The security departments cited villages in Hunan as having clan units so powerful they had refused to pay taxes or implement family planning measures. At the same time, since only males can join clans, their revival has fuelled families’ desires for male children in rural areas.

ah haaaaaaaaaaa!

One clan in central China boasts more than 30,000 members from three generations. Clan members make regular contributions to Spring Festival celebrations and the maintenance of ancestral shrines, temples and cemetaries. The Education Ministry cited the case of a county in the north-West which had more than 100 clan temples. Enthusiasts there spent more than one million Yuan ($120,500) in 1994 on clan-related activities, more than the area’s budget for schools. In the Hunan Province districts of Dingcheng and Hanshou districts, where there are several prominent clans, fights over territory or committee positions often degenerate into blood battles. ‘Many villages turn to clan organizations instead of the police or courts to settle disputes,’ a rural official in Hubei told a local newspaper.”

recall that the chinese have been regularly marrying their (mostly maternal) cousins or marrying endogamously since at least the third century b.c. (for more info, see links in mating pattern in asia series in the left-hand column below ↓ — almost at the bottom of the page.)

previously: china today…

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historic abortion rates in korea

on one of my posts about the gender imbalance issue in china and india (and other places), cinnamon asked about south korea. i replied that i didn’t know anything about gender imbalance in south korea — and i still don’t — but here’s a related story from back-in-the-day when everyone was worried about population control which, according to mara hvistendahl, is when sex selection abortions started to get out of hand. from hvistendahl in foreign policy:

“In South Korea, Western money enabled the creation of a fleet of mobile clinics — reconditioned U.S. Army ambulances donated by USAID and staffed by poorly trained workers and volunteers. Fieldworkers employed by the health ministry’s Bureau of Public Health were paid based on how many people they brought in for sterilizations and intrauterine device insertions, and some allege Korea’s mobile clinics later became the site of abortions as well. By the 1970s, recalls gynecologist Cho Young-youl, who was a medical student at the time, ‘there were agents going around the countryside to small towns and bringing women into the [mobile] clinics. That counted toward their pay. They brought the women regardless of whether they were pregnant.’ Non-pregnant women were sterilized. A pregnant woman met a worse fate, Cho says: ‘The agent would have her abort and then undergo tubal ligation.’ As Korea’s abortion rate skyrocketed, Sung-bong Hong and Christopher Tietze detailed its rise in the Population Council journal Studies in Family Planning. By 1977, they determined, doctors in Seoul were performing 2.75 abortions for every birth — the highest documented abortion rate in human history.”

east asians really like to do a thing thoroughly, don’t they?

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a “new” form of dysgenesis?

r.s. says that i may have stumbled upon a hitherto un-noted form of dysgenesis. on the other hand, r.s. was drunk when he said so (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), so maybe i didn’t. (~_^)

but, just in case, here’s the scenario:

1) gender imbalance in population: more men than women.

2) gender imbalance greatest in upper classes, the members of which have, presumably, a higher iq than average (i.e. that’s why they’re in the upper classes).

3) to quote r.s.: “Because of the ‘one father one mother’ principle – the two sexes’ genes must be very near equally represented in the next generation – usually when a pop is 66% male and 33% female the females have ~2x the fitness of the males. Because in every generation, men /collectively/ have x1 offspring and women also collectively have x1 offspring. Less women than men means more offspring for women per capita, than for men.

4) put numbers 2 & 3 together, and you should get a dysgenic situation, no? to quote me: in india, however it is the well-off that are aborting girls more than boys. that can’t be good. sounds potentially dysgenic (since poorer women will be contributing more children per capita in the next generation).”

if you’re a population geneticist and that sounds right to you, tell all your friends! if it doesn’t sound right, well, never mind.

in any case, maybe the male:female numbers in a human population would never be “off” enough for this to have an effect. then again, things ain’t great in china and india.

previously: “dysgenics”

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fixing the “bare branches” problem

from new scientist on trying to fix the “bare branches” problem in china:

“How great is the gender imbalance in China?

“In 2005, there were 32 million more men than women under the age of 20 in China. Young men with no prospect of marriage become a disruptive force in society. And with no one to marry, they will have no children and no one to take care of them when they are too old to work.

“Is the imbalance an unintended consequence of China’s one-child policy?

“Gender-selective abortions exacerbate the problem of dwindling birth rates. In China, a son is not just a source of pride, but a financial necessity. A daughter leaves home to join her husband’s family after marriage, so her parents have no one to care for them in their old age….

“How do you stop sex-selective abortion?

“In rural areas it is easier to enforce the rules as most doctors are government employees. The local Family Planning Commission official may monitor pregnancies to ensure that mothers do not abort for reasons other than a medical issue. In cities the policy is harder to enforce, and a black market for sonogram services has emerged.”

and here’s a little more background from the nyt from a few years ago:

“Surplus males: The dangers of Asia’s preference for sons”

“The most populous nations in Asia, including China, India and Pakistan, have acted upon their deep cultural preference for sons by culling daughters from their populations through the use of ever more efficient sex selective technologies….

“The technology to select male offspring before birth began to spread in the late 1980s, and the birth sex ratios began to rise. In China, the official ratio is 117 boys born for every 100 girls, but the reality is probably 120 or more. In India, the official birth sex ratio is 111-114 boys per 100 girls, but spot checks show ratios of up to 156 boys per 100 girls in some locales. For comparison, normal birth sex ratios are 105-107 boys born per 100 girls.

The mortality rate for girls and young women is also much higher than normal in these countries, further exacerbating the deficit. For example, the U.S. Bureau of the Census estimates excess deaths among Chinese females in the first year of life alone to be close to half a million. In India, almost one million more girls than boys die in the first five years of life….”

sounds like infanticide to me. here’s some more:

“Using conservative estimates, in 2020 India will have about 28 million more young males (aged 15 to 34) than young females. In China, the figure will be closer to 30 million; in Pakistan it will probably be 3-5 million.

“In China there is a term for such young men: guang gun-er, or ‘bare branches’ on the family tree — males who will probably not raise families of their own because the girls who should have grown up to become their wives fell victim to female infanticide.

The ‘bare branch’ populations in China and India, comprising about 12 to 15 percent of their young adult males, will be overwhelmingly poor, uneducated, unskilled and possibly unemployed. Throughout the millennia in which son preference has been effected in China, India and Pakistan, the bare branches have been one of the most volatile elements in society, frequently causing great social instability through crime and violence, and when uniting in a common movement, an important threat to the government itself.

“In Chinese history, for example, the Nien Rebellion, the Black Flag Army, the Boxers, the Eight Trigrams Rebellion and even the famous Shaolin fighting monks were all essentially bare-branch collectives doing what they did best: using force to acquire the resources otherwise denied them.

“The Nien, for example, came from an impoverished province where the sex ratio was 129 to 100. They began as petty bandits and smugglers, but soon coalesced into larger criminal brotherhoods. At the height of the rebellion, their leaders could boast of an army of more than 100,000 bare branches, which controlled an area populated by almost six million persons….

China is already experiencing a tremendous increase in crime, and 50 to 90 percent of the crimes in the large cities are committed by bare-branch migrants. Over the course of history, Chinese rulers’ response to the bare branches was to battle them, expel them or co-opt them as soldiers. All Chinese governments have understood that the bare branches are a formidable club — if it is in your hand it can be useful, but poised over your head it is a serious security threat.

“Indeed, the very type of government to which a nation can aspire is affected by a sex ratio abnormally favoring males. History demonstrates that such societies cannot be governed by anything less than an authoritarian political system. Furthermore, high-sex-ratio societies typically develop a foreign policy style crafted to retain the respect and allegiance of its bare branches — a swaggering, belligerent, provocative style….”


previously: india and china’s missing girls and mara hvistendahl is a… and mara hvistendahl responds to dawkins

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americans prefer boys, too

i’ve had a couple of posts up recently about the gender imbalance issue in china and india because of sex selective abortions in those countries.

well, turns out that americans prefer boys, too — and they have done since at least 1941! from gallup:

Americans Prefer Boys to Girls, Just as They Did in 1941
“Men tend to want boys; women are divided in their gender preferences

“If Americans could have only one child, they would prefer that it be a boy rather than a girl, by a 40% to 28% margin, with the rest having no preference or no opinion on the matter. These attitudes are remarkably similar to what Gallup measured in 1941, when Americans preferred a boy to a girl by a 38% to 24% margin….”

so, the preference for a boy child doesn’t seem so culturally-based. in fact, it’s starting to sound kinda — you know — universal to me. (more data req.) the imperative to act on this preference, tho, doesn’t seem so strong in the states for whatever reason(s).

see also: Couples With Daughters More Likely to Divorce (oh noes!)

previously: india and china’s missing girls and mara hvistendahl is a… and mara hvistendahl responds to dawkins

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mara hvistendahl responds to dawkins

mara hvistendahl has responded to richard dawkins who said that her book on the “missing girls” in india and china is critical of science. she says that it is not. further she says:

“[B]eginning in the 1960s a separate group of scientists proposed pushing along research into sex selection — not simply using existing techniques, but actively funding new work — for a reason that had nothing to do with avoiding disease or improving maternal health.

“These scientists were interested in sex selection’s significance in the developing world, where studies had shown many couples wanted at least one son. The idea there was not simply to help parents achieve the family composition of their dreams; it was to stop couples in countries like South Korea, India, and Taiwan from continuing to have girls until they got a boy. To quote from just two of the papers and books mentioning this approach at the time:

“‘A type of research which would have a great effect on population control would be that related to the discovery of methods for sex determination. It has been suggested that if one could predetermine that the first offspring would be a male, it would have a great effect on the size of the family.’ – William D. McElroy, BioScience, 1969

“‘[I]f a simple method could be found to guarantee that first-born children were males, then population control problems in many areas would be somewhat eased.’ – Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb, 1968….

“While Western science is not to blame for the disappearance of tens of millions of females from the global population, some Westerners did play a role in bringing sex selection to Asia. It is this role I hope we can discuss.”

first of all, no — westerners did not play a role in “bringing sex selection to Asia.” sure these guys had a role in bringing prenatal sex selection to asia, but asians already did PLENTY of sex selection long before the white man took any hand in it as i showed in my post yesterday. and that sex selection was probably based on INFANTICIDE — and one could make the argument that quite a lot of suffering has been avoided by eliminating a good deal of that.

and, secondly, “it is this role [of westerners] I hope we can discuss.” i’m not sure what there is to discuss, but ok.

what? is not population control — particularly in asia where there are waaaaay too many people that they can barely even feed everybody — not a problem? should we not help asians with their population problem? i think we should. we’ve all got to share this planet and if they’ve got population problems, we’ve got population problems.

there is clearly also a problem with having too many men in a society, but the asians need to work that one out for themselves. politically. they need to, i dunno, have a quota system per district and/or a lottery system (short stick? sorry, you’ll just have to be happy with a girl child). or monetary incentives to have girls! there’s a good one. everybody likes monetary incentives! encourage people to have more girls by handing out cash or free education or dowry funds or whatever.

how’s that for a plan?

previously: mara hvistendahl is a…

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mara hvistendahl is a…

…person who is really wrong about the gender imbalance issue in china and india.

in her recently published book, she apparently blames westerners for all the missing girls. from the guardian:

“Much of the literature on sex selection has suggested that cultural patterns explain the phenomenon. But Hvistendahl lays the blame squarely on western governments and businesses that have exported technology and pro-abortion practices without considering the consequences. Amniocentesis and ultrasound scans have had largely positive applications in the west, where they have been used to detect foetal abnormalities. But exported to Asia and eastern Europe they have been intricately linked to an explosion of sex selection and a mushrooming of female abortions.

“Hvistendahl claims western governments actively promoted abortion and sex selection in the developing world, encouraging the liberalisation of abortion laws and subsidising sales of ultrasounds as a form of population control.

‘It took millions of dollars in funding from US organisations for sex determination and abortion to catch on in the developing world,’ she writes.”

yes, yes — it was the evil westerners. again.

never mind that she’s totally wrong.

coincidentally, emmanuel todd brought up this very topic in his book that i just posted about yesterday [pgs. 48-49]:

“Female infanticide

“Undoubtedly the best indication of the fiercely agnatic character of the Indian family is the existence of a virulent tradition of female infanticide, more marked in north India even than in China. Recent Indian censuses consistently reveal a striking imbalance between the sexes: and excess of males denotes a massacre of female babies. A special supplement to the 1971 census was devoted to the sex ratio which, while normal in south India, frequently falls below 9 women to 10 men in north India (8.8 in Uttar Pradesh, near Delhi). In one group of villages in the Kangra district (Punjab) where a census was held in 1855, there were among children aged 4 to 14 only 393 girls for 1,000 boys.

1855. that’s just a few years before ultrasounds and amniocentesis tests were exported to the east by us evil westerners.

for a change, i’m in agreement with richard dawkins: Sex selection and the shortage of women: is science to blame?

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more missing girls?


Millions Fewer Girls Born Due to Nuclear Radiation?

“‘Unexpected’ findings suggest bomb tests, plant accidents boosted male births.

“Nuclear radiation from bomb tests and power plant accidents causes slightly more boys than girls to be born, a new study suggests. While effects were seen to be regional for incidents on the ground, like Chernobyl, atmospheric blasts were found to affect birth rates on a global scale.

“The result: Millions fewer females have been born worldwide than would otherwise be expected, researchers estimate….”

not so good.

edit: research article available online: The human sex odds at birth after the atmospheric atomic bomb tests, after Chernobyl, and in the vicinity of nuclear facilities

previously: india and china’s missing girls

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