During his tenure as the U.S. ambassador to China, GOP 2012 contender Jon Huntsman voiced his concern about China's gender imbalance that results from its one child policy, according to a diplomatic cable he penned in 2010.

The cable was recently published by Wikileaks.

The Problem

Huntsman said China's one-child policy, combined with its cultural preference and pressure for sons, leads to massive sex-selective abortions and post-natal discrimination.

As a result, China has an excess of over 30 million unmarriageable young males.

Since women will be in demand, many from poor rural areas may choose to marry men from rich urban areas, which ameliorates the problem in richer areas but exacerbates it in poorer areas.

The Potential Impact

Huntsman wrote that the shortage of females could lead to increased demand for sex workers and brides.

Those demands, in turn, could lead to more trafficking of girls and women for future brides or the sex industry.

Moreover, the large number of unmarriageable [and young] males threatens to destabilize and cause unrest, especially in areas also suffering from economic problems.

China's Response

China publicly acknowledged the problem in 2002.  Since then, the country has taken some initial steps to address this problem.

So far, the efforts have focused on financial incentives to girl-only families, removing barriers to gender equity, promoting the value of girls, building an adequate old-age social security, controlling prenatal sex identification, and controlling sex-selective abortions.

Currently, the Chinese government's goal is slowing the rate of increase of the sex ratio at birth by 2010, reducing the imbalance by 2015, and normalizing the sex ratio at birth by 2020.

The current goal is delayed from the government's previous goal, which set the deadline for normalization by 2010.   Huntsman wrote a Chinese official said the normalization goal may be further set back 2030.