Change taking place in China is not happening as fast as many Western critics want it to. To these critics, China should flip the feudal switch to democracy and the light should come on without effort.
However, in spite of Western pressure to speed things up, changes are taking place as planned by China’s government—one step at a time.
For example, foot binding was around centuries when the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911) first attempted to end the practice that would continue until 1949.
In 1976 when Mao died, twenty percent of the population was literate. Today more than 90% can read with a goal to reach 99%.
In 1985, school reform was implemented making nine years of education mandatory for all children. Academic achievement became the new priority over the political consciousness of the Mao era.
An example of how China’s education policies have brought about change may be seen among the “Granite Women”, who live near the coast in southeast China.
For centuries, these women carried blocks of granite from the quarries where their husbands, brothers and fathers worked cutting the stone.
However, today, China’s economic reforms along with education are changing the old ways.
Younger women, who have now had an education, know what they don’t want to do with their lives.
For centuries, others such the Qing Dynasty and the Nationalists failed to improve the quality of life in China for women. Where these others failed, the CCP appears to be succeeding.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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Note: This revised and edited post first appeared on November 7, 2010