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The women, absent from the high spheres of the Communist Party of China

Ⓒ AFP – Fred Dufour – | Some delegates leave the Great People’s Palace in Beijing, which hosts the Congress of the Communist Party of China, on October 19, 2017

The de facto exclusion of women from the leadership of the Communist Party of China, composed almost exclusively of men, contradicts the official discourse on gender equality in Chinese politics.

Only a quarter of the 2,300 delegates attending the party’s five-year congress on Tuesday are women.

“Women hold up half of the sky,” said the regime’s founder, Mao Tse-tung in a 1950s slogan, urging the equality of the sexes after millennia that they had a lower status than men, the imperial China.

But since the founding of the People’s Republic by the Communists in 1949, none have acceded to the top of power: the standing committee of the Chinese Communist Party (PCC) political bureau, the group of seven personalities who run the country.

This instance will be renewed on Tuesday or Wednesday, but unless surprised, will continue to be 100% masculine.

One step down, things are not very different either. There are only a dozen women in the Central Committee, a kind of internal party parliament, which has 205 members.

– “The surplus ones” –

A situation that has encouraged Guo Jianmei, a lawyer specializing in women’s law in China, to write a letter on the eve of Congress alerting delegates to the lack of women in politics.

“But there are no means to be heard, since no representative of the Party wants to help us,” Guo told AFP.

“China has no idea, in general, about the means to promote the status of women in politics,” he adds.

Equality between the sexes is inscribed in the Chinese Constitution. And, in equal positions, women receive in theory the same wages as their male counterparts.

But social traditions encourage women to give priority to their family life over their careers.

Something that illustrates this spirit: in the mid-2000s, a term was used to designate women over the age of 27 without a husband or boyfriend, “shengnü” (the surplus ones).

But, for a delegate of the Party Congress, much has already been accomplished. “China has already achieved gender equality, and the government supports the aspirations of women,” said the original representative of Shanghai, who does not want to divulge his name.

While women are absent from the highest spheres of power, the anti-corruption campaign undertaken by Xi in 2012 ventilated a large number of cases of adultery, contrary to the Party’s moral rules.

– Sex and concubines –

“Every line of thought or conduct dedicated to the satisfaction of pleasure, inaction, laziness and avoidance of difficulties is simply unacceptable,” Xi Jinping hammered last week.

Zhou Yongkang, the former head of the security services, has been accused of “committing adultery with numerous women and offering (using) his power in exchange for sex and money” .

And in September, CPC incumbent Sun Zhengcai was excluded because she had “seriously violated discipline” and “harnessed her power to obtain sexual favors.”

In 2013, a Peoples’ University study in Beijing concluded that 95 per cent of corrupt leaders and cadres had engaged in extramarital affairs.

“It has always been very widespread,” says the Beijing writer Zhang Lijia, who became interested in the subject for one of his novels.

“In ancient times, men boasted of their social position thanks to their numerous concubines. At present, this practice has returned with lovers,” he explains.

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