“To put it frankly, giving birth is not only a family matter but also a national issue,” read a commentary last year in the People’s Daily, the newspaper of the ruling Communist Party. “Not wanting to have kids is just a lifestyle of passively giving in to society’s pressures.” But it turns out that government policies have little influence on procreation in modern China.
China's economic gains over the past few decades and the creation of a huge middle class have led many women to pursue careers instead of getting married early. Or at all. This is contributing to a rapid decline in the number of births in China. There were 15.2 million live births in China last year, an astonishing 2 million fewer than the previous year, according to official statistics released last week.
Intense grooming has become a requirement in China’s entertainment industry, following the trend in South Korea for men with perfect skin and impeccable hair. Chinese movies and pop videos are now full of men who have embraced their natural slenderness and have clearly spent a lot of time on their looks. But Chinese netizens, many of them writing comments with homophobic overtones, think the trend has gone too far and that androgynous men — derided as “little fresh meats” — are “poisoning China’s youth.”
North Korea’s human rights abuses, from everyday repression and denial of food to egregious cases of torture and lifelong internment in concentration camps, have been extensively documented. But little attention has been paid specifically to sexual violence against women. “The world doesn’t know what’s happening to North Korean women and girls,” said Jihyun Park, who was trafficked from North Korea and is now an advocate for North Korean women’s rights. “North Korea says women enjoy equality, but it’s not true.”