BEIJING, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Experts have warned that millions of Chinese men of marrying age may be living as frustrated bachelors by 2020 due to gender imbalance, a trend that will add pressure to social stability.
Boys under 19 outnumber girls in the same age group by 23.77 million, which leads to the inevitable conclusion that more than 10 million men will have almost no hope of finding a mate, according to calculations based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
May-to-December romances will be more common in China, and there will be more marriageable urban bachelors seeking rural girls, Zhai Zhenwu, dean of the School of Sociology and Population Studies at the Renmin University of China, was quoted as saying by Wednesday's People's Daily.
The impoverished population will be more likely feel the pinch of China's gender imbalance, with rural men more likely left with no choice but resort to prostitutes and "mercenary" marriages, in which women are essentially sold to men and forced into marriage, he warned, adding such illegal activities endanger marriages and families as well as social stability.
Chinese parents' traditional preference for sons -- deemed as carrying the family name and able to take care of them in old age -- was magnified after the country introduced the one-child policy in the 1980s, as many parents choose to abort baby girls.
China's sex ratio at birth was 118.08 males for every 100 females in 2010, higher than demographic norm of 103 to 107 boys per 100 girls.
All provincial-level regions in China, except Tibet, have reported gender imbalances, said Yuan Xin, a professor with the Population and Development Research Institute of the School of Economics, Nankai University.
To help restore gender balance, China has promoted the idea that "girls are as good as boys" and beefed up efforts to fight sex-selective abortions.
China kicked off a nation-wide campaign to significantly curb non-medical sex determinations and sex-selective abortions to balance the gender ratio.
During the eight-month campaign from August 2011 to March 2012, efforts will be made to raise awareness of gender equality, to severely punish those involved in cases of non-medical sex determinations and sex-selective abortions, and to strengthen monitoring.
Doctors who violate the ban will be stripped of licenses or penalized, and involved medical institutions will also be given harsh punishments, said Liu Qian, vice minister of the Ministry of Health.