“Women carry half the sky”, said Mao Zedong. Still, since 1949, none has been admitted to the “holy of holies”, the standing committee of the political bureau of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), today composed of seven members. And only eight of them, including Mao’s third wife and that of his prime minister, Zhou Enlai, joined the Politburo, the lower echelon.
The imbalance between the number of women in the party – about 30% of the 97 million members – and their level of responsibility was further increased during the 20th congress of the CCP. Because the Politburo, which until then had a woman, Sun Chunlan, priestess of the fight against Covid, is now made up only of males (24), after her retirement. A first for twenty-five years, the tradition recommending the presence of at least one Chinese.
But Xi Jinping, who freed himself from all the rules of governance enacted after Mao’s death, did not respect this one either. Authoritarian and nationalist, the all-powerful president is also an ultra-conservative, a fervent defender of patriarchy.
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For him, the place of women is in the home, in the service of a declining birth rate. And beware of MeToo activists, quickly repressed. It is difficult to see how a country where women are excluded from major decisions could remove the blockages to the desire for children. But for Xi Jinping, the main thing is to consolidate his power, between men (the congress has endorsed a close guard of loyal clones sharing his hard line). And what does it matter if this machismo still tarnishes its image in the West.
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