Luo Tianhao, as quoted in Damien Ma’s recent blog post in The Atlantic.

China valentine
A women looks at a bouquet of roses at a flower market in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province of China. (photo: ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

I couldn’t help but swoon a little when reading Ma’s piece. Luo Tianhao proposes a “mei nu” tax (read Ma’s post for more detailed explanation) on Chinese women who marry foreigners to prevent them from leaving the country. Though Ma meant to illustrate a comical bureaucratic solution to China’s longstanding concern about men outnumbering women, I saw it as a kind of backhanded love letter to China’s women.

An economist would see the quote above and weigh that claim against the proposal and try to parse out its potential for success (or maybe quickly denounce it based on moral principles). But, to me, it reads almost like a Hallmark card for the emotionally clumsy on Valentine’s Day, “Dear Jane, you are my biggest strategic resource, better than oil, rare earths, or even pandas.”

Damien Ma doesn’t give much credence to this proposal. But like the awkward, late valentine, maybe it is the thought that counts.

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