`Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 95“One of the key problems holding back women is their under-representation in politics and business. Though China does have some prominent women, such as China’s Vice-Premier Wu Yi (cited as the third most powerful woman in the world by Forbes in 2006) Xie Qihua, chairwoman of China’s biggest steelmaker, Baosteel, and Ma Xuezheng, a senior vice president of computer manufacturer Lenovo, (named by Forbes as one of the world’s most powerful women in business in 2006) these cases are very much the exception.Wu Yi is the only woman at the highest level of the Chinese government, and Xie Qihua was the only female boss in her industry until her retirement in 2007. Ma Xuezheng also retired in 2007 for ‘personal reasons’ though Forbes hinted this was to do with problems in Lenovo’s takeover of IBM’s global PC business.China’s political and business culture is a world of men. Only 20% of members of China’s National People’s Congress are women, and only about 16% of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. China did not get its first female governor, Gu Xiulian, until 1983. Nationwide, there are 15 million female officials, accounting for 38% of the total number of officials. But most of these 15 million serve at a low level. Only 9.9% serve at provincial or ministerial level. And at the highest level of government, just 2% are female said media in 2005.”
And even Wu Yi has now retired – replaced by a man. The one thing, more than any other, that unifies all my experience of China is the unhappiness of its women. The consistency with which my female friends tell me tales of harassment, belittlement and sheer contempt is implacable.
I don’t recall ever hearing from any woman in China that she feels she is treated equal to a man.
`Fault Lines On The Face Of China: 50 Reasons Why China May Never Be Great’ - Excerpt 96“It is true that China has some laws that at least address domestic violence. Yet these laws are both weak and unclear. China’s revised Marriage Law of 2002 does outlaw marital violence. But it does not say how violence is to be defined, leaving victims in a legal grey area. China’s previous marriage law, drawn up in 1980, did not mention domestic violence at all. Between 2001 and 2005, just 10 sexual harassment cases were heard by China’s courts. Of these, just one plaintiff won. One!Even Beijing, the center of law making, did not hear its first sexual harassment case until 2003. The woman in that case, Lei Man, lost because she was unable to provide proof of her claim, and because medical authorities for the defense diagnosed her as ‘suffering from paranoia.’Sexual harassment is also a problem in China due to the cultural reticence to talk about sex. This reticence means children are very rarely taught about the dangers of sexual abuse. ‘People in China have read of cases of sexual abuse in other countries, but many do not seem to realize that it’s a problem here as well. Many children and parents simply ignore it and know little about it’ said Chinese media in 2004. The sexual abuse of children was not made a criminal offence in China until 1991. It was not until 2007 that China’s Ministry of Education released a guide, to be taught in schools, telling tell minors of the dangers of sexual abuse. The concept of ‘street proofing’ children appears to be unheard of in China.”