China Facts: Population - Trafficking of North Korean Refugees

Our second installment of our series about China is about China's massive population, which affects many North Korean refugees who seek help in the country. China’s sheer size is its biggest strength and its biggest weakness. China is the world’s most populace country with 1.3 billion people. The United States by contrast has about 300 million people and is still the world’s third-largest country by population.

A mass revolt in China would be overwhelming for the government. The government knows this. So the sheer size of the population has been a check on the government. As we mentioned in our last post, China’s ruling class seeks to hold onto power. This has been the driving force of the country’s turn to capitalism and subsequent economic boom.

In his book, “The Party,” Richard McGregor writes that the Chinese government "is all about joining the highways of globalization, which in turn translates into greater economic efficiencies, higher rates of return, and greater political security,"

China has a giant pool of cheap labor that is more than willing to take low-wage manufacturing jobs. But it is also a challenge to feed and control a population so large.

China has taken some measures to curb the growth of its population. One of these measures is the infamous One Child Policy, which went into effect in 1979. By law, most Chinese couples cannot conceive more than one child. This policy has been relaxed several times over the course of decades but the core of it remains.


In 2010, The Economist reported a gender ratio of 275 boys for every 100 girls born in some of China’s provinces. This is almost a three-to-one ratio. What has resulted is an almost hopeless gender gap. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences stated that by the year 2020, there will be 30 to 40 million more men than women in China.

“The cruelest effects of this lopsided gender seesaw will be felt by the involuntary bachelors living in a culture in which marriage is expected,” wrote Susan Scutti in her January report in Newsweek. “These surplus men are sometimes disabled (20 percent), often illiterate, and nearly always the ones who have been left behind to live in rural communities with limited financial prospects.”

As a result, North Korean refugee women who enter China illegally have been sold to the poorest of Chinese men, many of whom are disabled.

The country that is responsible for this gender imbalance has, in effect, created this “market” for vulnerable women and on top of this, hunts these same women down and sends them back to North Korea where they will be tortured and even executed.

Crossing Borders has ministered to men and children who have lost their wives and mothers by forced repatriation. The practice leaves families devastated. Many turn to alcohol to cope.

An overwhelming majority of the North Korean refugees Crossing Borders has helped over the years have been sold to Chinese men. Some have been sold more than once.

Stay tuned for more facts about China.