Four decades ago, China entranced the world as its then paramount leader Deng Xiaoping opened up the country to foreign investors and focused on modernization. Part of his strategy was a blanket one-child policy to ensure that economic development would not be nullified by an exploding population which, at the time, was nearing a billion people.

The one-child policy was implemented through draconian acts, including very late-term abortions, forcible sterilization and grossly humiliating treatment of hundreds of millions of women. At the household level, many girl babies were killed or abandoned in the hope that the next one would be a boy. Some lucky ones were adopted by foreign couples.

For over three decades, the Communist Party refused to budge, even though it had long been obvious that the policy was resulting in a large discrepancy in sex ratios at birth. Today, there are 30 million men with no chance of getting a wife because the women were never born.