Vietnam produces 112 boys for every 100 girls, a gender imbalance that will leave about three million men with difficulty finding wives by 2030 if it continues, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan told an online conference of officials, according to Vietnam News Agency.

He said Vietnam could learn big lessons about gender imbalance from China, Japan and South Korea, and asked people's committees to raise awareness through the mass media.

"Strengthening the dissemination of news and information on the issue is necessary," Nhan said.

In the country's commercial capital, Ho Chi Minh City, there are 113 boys for every 100 girls, said Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, deputy chairman of the People's Committee, the local government body.

According to Vietnam News Agency, Ha said many books, newspapers and the Internet provide information on prenatal gender selection, violating state policy on minimising prenatal gender inequality.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Ba Thuy was quoted as saying the number of families with three children has continued to rise and gender imbalance is becoming very apparent.

In late 2007 a UN Population Fund report highlighted "growing concern that the sex ratio at birth is becoming unbalanced in Vietnam", while the international ratio at birth was about 105 boys for every 100 girls.

Reasons for Vietnam's unbalanced sex ratio included pressure to adhere to a two-child policy, a preference for sons, and ready availability of ultrasound and abortion, said the report.

Although Vietnam in 2003 banned foetal sex selection, many doctors tell parents-to-be if they are expecting a boy or girl.

Men in Vietnam have traditionally carried on the family lineage, inherited homes and land, cared for elderly parents and overseen funerals and ancestor worship rituals.

China, where most parents are banned from having more than one child, has faced a marriage squeeze.

Agence France Presse - May 12, 2009