China versus the U.S. when it comes to Women in Positions of Power

September 29, 2015

According to Forbes.com, Canada is the best country in the world to be a woman, and India is the worst.  The U.S. was ranked #6 of the twenty countries surveyed. The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

Starting with the I Ching, The Book of Changes, almost five thousand years ago, the central focus of Chinese philosophy has been how to live an ideal life and how best to organize society.

When the Communist Party of China gained power in 1949, previous schools of Chinese philosophy, except Legalism, were denounced as backward and purged during the Great Leap Forward and during the insanity of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

Most Chinese think that true advancement and growth should only happen slowly, at a steady, measured pace, which means to grow but grow slow like an oak tree while following a well thought out plan to bring about change.

Even the United States doesn’t change that fast.

In fact, it took almost ninety years to free the slaves, and women first sought the right to vote in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention. Then seventy-two years later in 1920, American women finally earned the right to vote when the Nineteenth Amendment was adopted by Congress and was ratified by the states becoming a national law.

Global map showing womens rights

The last time women had relative freedom in China was in the seventh century during the Tang Dynasty when Emperor Wu Zetian, a woman, ruled the country.

Since 1982, when China ratified its Constitution, women in China have gained more freedom, power and rights than at any other time in China’s history including the Tang Dynasty when Wu Zetian ruled as the only female emperor in China’s history.

Anyone that does not consider this progress is stupid, blind and deaf.

Critics in the West have pointed out that under the Communists, no woman has ruled China, and I’d counter that no woman has ever ruled the United States—yet.

In 2013 Lin Yandong, a senior Party official responsible for winning over non-Communists, was elected Vice Primer of China, one of the country’s senor leaders. She’s now one of China’s four vice premiers making her not only the most powerful woman in China, but also one of the most powerful in the world. She is one of two women in China’s 25-member Politburo. The other woman is Sun Chunlan.

Chinese women’s participation in politics has grown since 1982. For instance, in 1952 only 12% of China’s National Congress (NPCC) was women. In 2014, of the 2,959 seats in the NPCC, more than 23% of the seats (699) were held by women compared to about 19% in the United States Congress. Out of 190 countries, China is ranked #58 versus the U.S. that’s ranked #76. – Women in national parliaments

“Chinese women leaders have much in common. They generally all have a good education background, being mainly science majors, and solid experience in government. They are of a caliber equal to that of their male counterparts,” an All-China Women’s Federation expert said. For the United States, I’m thinking of Sarah Palin—enough said.

If you hear anyone demanding faster change in China, be cautious. After all, China seems to be moving faster than the United States when it comes to women holding positions of power.

Why do so many of China’s critics in the West expect China to move faster than the United States?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Oprah Times Four in China

August 13, 2012

Oprah may have retired in America, but her Chinese counterparts are still at work with a combined audience approaching one billion people.

After doing research for this post, I thought, how could these four Chinese women be compared to Oprah when her average US audience was a little more than 7 million? Source: Answers.com

The four women I discovered in China that have been described as an Oprah are Chen Luyu, Yue-sai Khan, Hung Huang, and Yang Lan.

I’ve written about Luyu before at You’ve Come a Long Ways, Babe.

Luyu’s audience in China averages 140 million. Her show is called A Date With Luyu, which tackles issues that traditionally have been censored by Chinese media officials. The show’s guests have included people who are HIV-positive, lesbians and transsexuals.

Of Yue-sai Kan, The Conversation: The Most Famous Woman in China says she is a journalist, television host, entrepreneur and author and has been a key figure in modern Chinese culture for 20 years. About 300 million Chinese watch her show.

People Magazine called Yue-sai Kan the most famous woman in China. Money Magazine described her as a Modern Day Marco Polo.

After Kan hosted a live broadcast from China in 1984 for PBS, China’s government asked her to produce One World, the first television series ever produced and hosted by an American on China’s only national network, CCTV. Source: Women of China

The next Chinese Oprah is Hong Huang, who hosts a TV show called Crossing Over. Huang’s mother was Mao Zedong’s English teacher. She was sent to the U.S. for an education as a teenager and returned to become one of the most influential entrepreneurs in Chinese print media.

Hung Huang is the chief executive of the China Interactive Media Group and publishes fashion magazines such as I Look, Time Out and Seventeen. Her Blog, which has an audience of about 15 million, is one of China’s most popular and continues to be one of the top five on Sina.com.

The fourth Chinese Oprah I discovered was Yang Lan, who rose to fame as the host of the Zheng Da Variety Show, which often has an audience of 200 million viewers.

In the following YouTube video clip, Yang Lan talks about how Chinese women are making their mark on China’s future.

She says the younger generation in China is turning away from television and using the Internet for entertainment and information.

If you do the math, you will discover that these four Chinese Oprahs reach an audience of about 700 million compared to America’s Oprah, which had an average audience of seven million when she was still on the air.

Maybe the US Oprah’s claim to fame is because she was the first one, and it has nothing to do with the size of the audience. Did you notice that all of these Chinese Oprahs speak excellent English? I am sure that America’s Oprah doesn’t speak Mandarin.

Now that the US Oprah is gone, her audience may want to see if they can switch to one of China’s four Oprahs.

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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 24, 2010


Change Comes to China’s “Granite Women”

June 5, 2012

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.

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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


Meet the Winemaker from Shanxi Province

February 11, 2012

In August 2010, the China Daily reported, “The number of private enterprises reached 7.5 million, accounting for half of China’s gross domestic product, 70 percent of the nation’s technical innovations and 60 percent of its patents.” In addition, “China’s top 500 private companies have surpassed State-owned enterprises in many indicators, especially tax payments and employment creation, according to a report from the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce.”

In fact, Bloomberg.com says, “Many of the world’s richest self-made women are Chinese,” and Psychology Today.com tells us, “Women own more than 40% of private businesses in China.”

Meet one of those women. Judy Leissner was 24 when she became the CEO and President of 168-acre Grace Vineyard in Shanxi province, south of Beijing after she quit her job at Goldman Sachs.

The first grape-vine plantings were in 1997 and the first vintage in 2001. Judy started the winery because her father liked to drink. Today, Judy produces a quality wine—about 700,000 bottles annually.

Most people do not know that quality wine is produced in China. In fact, Judy has competition since there are about 400 wineries in China.

Judy says there is an opportunity in China to make a lot of money in a short period of time, because the country is developing and growing.

The difference between the wine market in China and the rest of the world is that most drinkers in China must drink because they have to. It’s part of the culture of doing business and developing guanxi.

In an update, Grape Wall of China.com visited Grace Vineyard in September 2011, and Jim Boyce says he visited Grace CEO Judy Leisser. He says, “About a week ago, she sent an email that the wines Grace bottled under screw cap earlier this year are doing fine and, if all goes well with final trials, the winery will switch closures this year for its entry level and premium level wines. Grace’s Premium Chardonnay ranks among the better Chinese wines and is found in top hotels and restaurants in Beijing and Shanghai.”

In addition, in an interview at 24×75.com with Judy Leissner October 17, 2011, she was asked how different the work environment for Grace Vineyard was compared to Goldman Sachs where she worked prior to becoming CEO of the vineyard in Shanxi Province. She said, “Goldman Sachs is a fast-pace, can-do, efficient place.” However, for the winery, she said, “The whole atmosphere was rather sleepy.”

In another question, Judy was asked about social responsibility and what those two words mean.  She responded with, “We guarantee our growers basic income… Grace is a perfect example of an environmentally friendly and sustainable business. We provide many jobs for people from nearby villages.”

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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 updated and revised post first appeared on November 08, 2010


China’s Bound-Feet Women

February 7, 2012

According to historical accounts, foot binding appeared in China during the Sung Dynasty (960-1276 AD).

The process of foot binding usually started between the ages of four and seven. Feet were soaked in a blood and herb mixture. Toes were broken. Then the arch was broken. There was extreme pain since no pain relief was used. It is estimated that in a thousand years about two billion women went through the process.


What would you do for beauty?

The Manchu leaders of the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911) tried with little success to stop foot binding, and Manchu women did not bind their feet. Mostly Han (the majority in China) women continued the practice.

In 1928, the Nationalist government announced plans to do away with foot binding. This attempt to end foot binding met with mixed success. In rural areas, large feet were still considered unattractive and unacceptable and the practice continued.

While working in China for National Geographic on a three part Marco Polo series, Michael Yamashita, a veteran photographer, went in search of women who had bound feet. He found them living in remote urban villages.

Even in 19th century San Francisco, there were Chinese girls and women with bound feet. Source: Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco

In most of China, social and sexual customs resist rapid change. For millions of women, the practice would continue until 1949 when the Communists came into power.

Then the popularity of foot binding to enhance a woman’s beauty ended.

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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 post first appeared November 7, 2010.


Sex, Sex, Sex as Reported by “The China Law Blog”

January 3, 2011

The China Law Blog posted a piece in August 2009 that I became aware of recently titled “A Western Woman in China….Sex, Sex, Sex????!!!!

Dan of The China Law Blog mentions a post at Gina in Shanghai, another Blog. He summarizes Gina’s post with “Chinese view Western women to be like the women in “Sex in the city”.

Then he finishes his brief post with a question “How do you feel about attitudes toward sex in China?”

Actually, I don’t think I have an opinion on that topic.

After all, how others behave or think is not my problem to carry around like a burden, as Gina seems to be doing.


Does this episode of “Sexy Beijing” hosted by Sufei support the “Sex in the City” Stereotype Gina is talking about?

Then I clicked on the link that took me to Gina in Shanghai to read her longer post.

I discovered that Gina is from Palo Alto in the US, which isn’t far from where I live in the East Bay.

Reading her post, I sensed her frustration but also saw her inability to accept others for who they are and what they believe. From what I’ve learned, 85% of an individual’s personality is formed by the environment he or she grew up in and only 15% comes from genetics.

In fact, the multitude of environments in China are very different from the US, where most people grow up as if they live in a jar expecting the rest of the world outside the jar to learn how to act and think like them as if all Americans were the same–isn’t that a reverse stereotype?

In her conclusion, Gina wrote, “There are frustrations with the way we are treated differently, and that the way we look comes associated with really heavy assumptions about our personality, our behavior, our way of life, and even our country…”

When I finished reading Gina’s post, I thought how Americans do the same thing to the Chinese—stereotype them with heavy assumptions about their personalities, their behavior, their way of life and even their country.

Most of those assumptions are supported by American politicians and the Western media and of course maybe individuals such as Gina when she says, “At first, I found these statements funny, but this quickly became something that made me incredibly angry and defensive. As a woman who is quite proud of my independence and my personal choices, I hated being pigeonholed into this ‘morally degenerate’ category. But it seemed like a losing battle…”

That poses a question—is there a double standard when it comes to sex or is it because women and men are different genetically and they grow up in different individual environments?

Shatter your stereotype of China (if you have one) and learn about China’s Sexual Revolution

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Party Women

November 10, 2010

Starting with the I Ching, The Book of Changes, almost five thousand years ago, the central focus of Chinese philosophy has been how to live an ideal life and how best to organize society.

When the Communist Party of China gained power in 1949, previous schools of Chinese philosophy, except Legalism, were denounced as backward and purged during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

However, their influence on Chinese thought did not vanish since China’s Central Committee continues to plan and organize modernization and changes to China’s five thousand year old culture and society.

Most Chinese believe that true advancement and growth should only happen slowly, at a steady, measured pace, which means to grow but grow slow like a tree while following a well thought out plan to bring about the changes.

Even the United States doesn’t change quickly. 

In fact, it took almost ninety years to free the slaves, and women first sought the right to vote in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention.

Then seventy-two years later in 1920, American women finally earned the right to vote when the Nineteenth Amendment was adopted by Congress and was ratified by the states becoming a national law.

The last time women had relative freedom in China was in the seventh century during the Tang Dynasty when Emperor Wu Zetian, a woman, ruled the country.

Since 1982, when China ratified its Constitution, women in China have gained more freedom, power and rights than at any other time in China’s history including the Tang Dynasty.

Anyone that does not consider this progress is stupid, blind and deaf.

Critics in the West might point out that under the Communists, no woman has ruled China, but I could say the same of the United States and many other countries.

Today, The most likely woman candidate for Politburo status — and a remote possibility for the Standing Committee — is Lin Yandong, a senior Party official responsible for winning over non-Communists.

In fact, Chinese women’s participation in politics has grown since 1982. There are now 230 or more women provincial and ministerial officials, 670 or more are mayor, which is twice the number of 1995.

“Chinese women leaders have much in common. They generally all have a good education background, being mainly science majors, and solid experience in government. They are of a caliber equal to that of their male counterparts,” an All-China Women’s Federation expert said.

If you hear anyone demanding quick changes in China, be cautions. Moving fast may result in tragedy.  I suggest that China continue to change steadily and slowly like an oak tree. 

Why do so many of China’s critics expect China to move faster than the US did? Is it because they want to see China fail?

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.